Pope Francis upset many conservatives when he released his encyclical on climate change this summer, but it's certainly not the first time he's raised eyebrows. The pontiff's past comments on homosexuality, capitalism, and international geopolitics have also ruffled those on the right.
As the pope gears up for his trip to the U.S. next month, many will be waiting to see what message he delivers directly to the American people. Many conservatives aren't holding their breath, however.
Gathered below are 22 past statements by the pope that prove he's a consistent leftist.
1. He has called for centralized redistribution of wealth.
In May of last year, the pope addressed the U.N., calling for what sounded like a socialist "redistribution of economic benefits by the state."
2. He has contradicted the teachings of past popes.
Pope Francis' comments contrast starkly with John Paul II's writings. In Centensimus Annus (1991), John Paul acknowledged that Marxism clearly failed with the fall of the Soviet Union, and praised any economic system "which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production as well as free human creativity in the economic sector."
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3. He has decried "inequality" as "the root of social ills."
Presumably speaking about capitalism, which has lifted billions out of poverty by providing jobs and other opportunities, the pope once said, "The current model, with its emphasis on success and self-reliance, does not appear to favor an investment in efforts to help the slow, the weak or the less talented to find opportunities in life."
4. He has rejected the most basic tenets of market-based capitalism.
"We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the 'invisible hand' of the market," the pope has said.
5. He has rejected basic tenets of personal liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
"In a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions," he's said.
6. He has praised a children's book promoting homosexual coupling.
On July 9 of this year, the pope sent a letter to the author of "Piccolo Uovo," which features a cast of animal characters including gay penguins and lesbian rabbits. "His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values," said his letter to the book's author.
7. He has spoken at length about the need to combat climate change.
"A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides, and others) released mainly as a result of human activity," he wrote in his recent encyclical.
8. He has defended homosexuality.
In July 2013, the pope was asked what he thought about gay priests, and he responded with a laissez-faire attitude: "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?" The statement, now one of Francis' most famous, was cheered by social liberals, progressives, and libertarians.
9. He has downplayed issues important to conservatives.
"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible," he said in 2013. "The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
10. He has alienated many devout Catholics.
Not pleased with the pope's comments, five Cardinals joined 500,000 petitioners from conservative group TFP Student Action this summer in asking the pope to reaffirm rational teaching on marriage and the family.
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11. He has criticized the institution of the Catholic church.
"The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you," he said in August 2013.
12. He has criticized his fellow priests, and past Catholic leaders.
"Heads of the Church have often been narcissists, flattered and thrilled by their courtiers. The court is the leprosy of the papacy," he said in an October 2013 interview in Italy.
13. He has discouraged evangelism of the Christian faith.
"Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us," he said in 2013.
14. He has criticized free-market capitalism.
During a speech in Bolivia, Pope Francis called unfettered capitalism "the dung of the devil," a comment many saw as a possible endorsement of socialism. He went on to criticize "corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of 'austerity.'" U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said the pope clearly displays a warped view of capitalism having grown up in Argentina, which is rampant with corruption and doesn’t have "a true free enterprise system."
15. He accepted a blasphemous crucifix from communist Bolivian President Evo Morales
. During his visit to South America this year, Morales handed the pope a small statue of Jesus crucified on a hammer and sickle — the symbol of communism — and the pope took it in his hands, accepting the gift and taking it back to his home in the Vatican.
16. He has defended labor unions.
During the same speech in Bolivia, the pope defended labor unions, not acknowledging a common criticism from conservatives that labor unions hurt students and consumers.
17. He has criticized fruitful Catholic families.
"Some think . . . that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible paternity, that is clear," the pope said in January, contravening 2,000 years of church teaching about reproduction and birth control.
18. He has seemingly advocated for cultural relativism.
In speaking about Western ideals, the pope advocated "Every people deserves to conserve its identity without being ideologically colonized," perhaps not considering that many of those ideals are now regularly considered inalienable human rights.
19. He has encouraged more liberal academic traditions supported by many Jesuits.
As the world's first Jesuit Pope, Francis has propped up vigorous debate among Cardinals and Bishops hailing from liberal, Jesuit-run universities and colleges.
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20. He has offered friendly visits to cruel dictators like Cuban President Raúl Castro.
The brother of Fidel Castro is an avowed ex-Catholic, but said he had a good time with the pope this May.
21. He will deliver mass in Cuba under a communist Che Guevara portrait.
During his coming September visit, Pope Francis will deliver a sermon in the Plaza de la Revolución, which is presided over by an iron sculpture of the militant Guevara.
22. He has softened church rules regarding divorce and remarriage.
Church doctrine says that divorced Catholics are not allowed to receive Communion, however Pope Francis signaled a potential shift in the doctrine in August of this year, saying "open doors" should greet "People who started a new union after the defeat of their sacramental marriage." He acknowledged that the church considers "taking up a new union" wrong, "contradicts the Christian sacrament" of marriage, and amounts to adultery, but said "true welcome toward people living in these situations" should be offered nonetheless.
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