In a recent broadside against the teachings of what Damon Linker correctly notes today as the world’s “politically inconvenient pontiff,” George F. Will–with unsurprising dogmatism, unfortunately–lays bare the liberal roots of his contempt:

As the world spurns his church’s teachings about abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage and other matters, Francis jauntily makes his church congruent with the secular religion of “sustainability.” Because this is hostile to growth, it fits Francis’s seeming sympathy for medieval stasis, when his church ruled the roost, economic growth was essentially nonexistent and life expectancy was around 30….[Pope Francis] stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.

So, Pope Francis is suspicious of unrestrained growth, envinces some sympathy for the sustainability of more medieval social and economic relationships, is not a huge booster of modernity and rationality and science, worries about and is open to putting limits upon the external harms that people’s choices may have on the social and environmental fabric of the world, and, for all those reasons, is a bad American. Sounds like he might actually be…well, conservative. Imagine that. Good to know that secular liberals–like today’s George F. Will–are here to sound the alarm.

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  1. “Sounds like he might actually be…well, conservative.”

    Indeed, you could remove ‘Pope Francis’ from your paragraph and replace him with ‘Russell Kirk’ or ‘Richard Weaver’ or ‘M.E. Bradford’ and not have to change one jot or tittle.

    Mr. Will has an exceedingly strange and limited notion of which of us can and cannot “celebrate their nation’s premises.”

  2. The Pope’s social thought is worthy of consideration, and deserves a fair hearing. George Will and Conservatism, Inc. can safely be ignored. Popes, and the rest of us, might be better off, however, if they reduced their output of social teaching.

    I would like the Pope to also have something to say about sin and redemption. He certainly has great concern for people suffering from material poverty; does the Pope also care about those who suffer because they struggle with sin, or due to their ignorance of Jesus? I know the answer is yes, but his spiritual and theological concerns do not always shine through.

  3. Sounds like he might actually be…well, Catholic.

    I don’t think the Pope would strenuously object to being told he’s not American. Will’s not actually wrong about that.

    What Will is is hopelessly boring, but hardly more so than the entire columnist lineup of the Washington Post and NY Times, both of which demonstrate that term limits would be a grand idea for such positions.

    In addition, it is simply vile for the President to basically say “I don’t look to the Pope as an authority on anything, but he agrees with me on a couple of things so all of you who do better get in line and listen to him because he’s such an authority.” Talk about chutzpah.

  4. Schoolmarm Geo. Will, pontificating on Pontiff Francis, show us once again that his anal-ytic skills are constrained and ungenerous beyond the game of baseball.

  5. George Will exemplifies the fact that American conservatives are really just liberals who dress well, and are about twenty years behind in their program. American free enterprise was a liberal program, albeit to some extent a Whig Liberal program. Spontaneous creativity and more efficient production have their virtues… but when either comes at the price of pouring toxic poisons into your neighbor’s yard, water supply, or air, resulting in a quantifiable number of deaths, there is good cause from a Christian, socialist, conservative, perhaps even a humane liberal point of view, for imposing the onerous burden of regulation.

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