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Cardinal Rodriguez Criticizes the Pope's American Critics

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) May 14, 2015: Pope Francis, the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from Latin America, and the first pope to take the name of Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, will soon become the first pope to issue an encyclical about the environment. Whenever it is officially released by the Vatican, it will be released in several languages simultaneously. At the present time, the translators are working on the multiple translations that will be released, probably early in the summer.

Can you imagine the noise that the American conservative noise machine is going to make after the pope's encyclical is released?

Historically in American culture, Protestant preachers routinely denounced the pope as the Anti-Christ and the prostitute of Babylon. After Pope Francis' encyclical about the environment is released, perhaps American conservatives will recycle those old epithets to characterize the pope.

But already certain American conservatives have criticized the very idea of a pope issuing an encyclical on the environment.

Now, according to various news reports, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of the Honduras, the coordinator of the pope's kitchen cabinet of nine cardinals, is pushing back in no uncertain terms.

Cardinal Rodriguez is being quoted as saying, "The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to capitalism that doesn't want to stop ruining the environment because they don't want to give up their profits."

Cardinal Rodriguez's statement has been reported by the Vatican correspondent Ines San Martin ("Key advisor blasts US criticism to [sic] pope's environmental stance") at the Crux feature of the Boston Globe and repeated in pieces by Nick Gass (Pope Francis Aide blasts U.S. climate skeptics") at Politico and Timothy Cama ("Pope's top adviser blasts US climate skeptics") at The Hill. All three pieces are dated May 12, 2015.

Cardinal Rodriguez sounds like he's channeling the ancient Hebrew prophet Amos.

But who does Cardinal Rodriguez think he is criticizing capitalism, hey? Why, unregulated capitalism is as American as apple pie.

No doubt American conservatives worship the so-called "rugged individualism" of the so-called "self-made man" in classic capitalism -- who supposedly pulled himself up by his bootstraps -- unencumbered by government regulation of course.

Besides, everybody knows that Latin America, where Pope Francis comes from, has historically been under-developed economically compared to the United States, because of the cultural dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America. Therefore, Americans should be skeptical about the first Latin American pope's views of capitalism and/or the environment.

But will American progressives and liberals push back against the conservative noise machine after the pope's encyclical about the environment is released? If progressives and liberals do push back, the debate in American culture about the pope's encyclical promises might be a war of words between American conservatives, some of whom are American Catholics, on the one hand, and, on the other, American progressives and liberals who are interested in the environment, some of whom are not Catholics.


Now, I want to work with the basic paradigm of a two-sided debate: Position A versus Position B. But I want to work with a much bigger conceptual framework than either capitalism pro and con, or the environment pro and con.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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