Pope Francis

Why Are So Many Pundits Trashing the Pope? BY MATT TAIBBI

When Pope Francis recently wrote an encyclical letter condemning the polluting impact of global capitalism, conservative maven Michelle Malkin was offended. “Holy Hypocrisy!” she declared:

“While the pontiff sanctimoniously attacks ‘those who are obsessed with maximizing profits,’ Carrier Corporation — a $13 billion for-profit company with 43,000 employees worldwide (now a unit of U.S.-based United Technologies Corp.) — ensures that the air in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel stays clean and cool.”

I’m normally not a big fan of the Catholic Church, or popes in general. But if anyone should be allowed to adopt a “sanctimonious” tone, it’s probably a pope, right? Isn’t an air of moral superiority part of the job description?

Malkin might have been joking, but she doesn’t usually go for Art Buchwald-style funny in her prose. Moreover, it came in the middle of a passage in which she unironically called the pope a hypocrite for criticizing global capitalism and using air conditioning at the same time.

This is the same bizarre argument that right-wing columnists pulled out during Occupy Wall Street, when, for instance, Charles Krauthammer called protesters hypocrites for complaining about corporate capitalism even as they drank Starbucks, wore Levis and used iPhones.

At first glance, the Francis encyclical seems like Typical Pope Stuff, full of organized religion’s usual sour grapes over various new altars humanity has chosen to worship before – in particular, technology and profits. Francis repeatedly argues that the sweeping changes of humanity’s recent past (which of course include a dramatic reduction in the influence of religion) haven’t been all they’re cracked up to be.

“The growth of the past two centuries,” he writes, “has not always led…to an improvement in the quality of life.”

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