The problem is simply that Francis has broken from too many elements in the Republican Party platform. First there were affirming statements about homosexuality. Then harsh words for capitalism and trickle-down economics. And now climate change. That, it seems, is a bridge too far. Francis has put conservative American Catholics in the position of having to choose between the pope and the GOP. It should surprise no one that they’re siding with the Republicans.
Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, a number of neoconservative Catholics (or theocons) went out of their way to make the case for the deep compatibility between Catholicism and the GOP. But not just compatibility: more like symbiosis. ...the GOP would serve as a vehicle for injecting Catholic moral and social ideas into American political culture — while those Catholics ideas, in turn, would galvanize the Republican Party, lending theological gravity and purpose to its agenda and priorities.....
The theocons created an abstract fusion of GOP policy and an unrecognizable form of Christianity that saw money as a virtue, the earth as disposable, and the poor as invisible. It couldn’t last, given the weight of Christian theology and tradition marshaled against it. And it hasn’t. Francis is, moreover, indistinguishable on this issue from Benedict XVI and even John Paul II. As in so many areas, it’s the American far right whose bluff is finally being called.