Pope Francis may be winning fans with his common touch and insistence on a more humble church, but he has come under attack from conservative American commentators for — in the words of Rush Limbaugh — “ripping America.”
Limbaugh and fellow conservative Bill O’Reilly were both critical of the pope this week after the pontiff wrote critically on Nov. 26 about “trickle down economics,” and asked, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”
O’Reilly, who is a Catholic, gave a veiled critique of the pope’s statement during a segment Tuesday on “The O’Reilly Factor” featuring several clerics, including Pastor Joshua Dubois, a former special assistant to the president.
“Last week Pope Francis said that income inequality is immoral. But he didn’t get very specific on that,” O’Reilly said.
He said “that some of the people who don’t have enough to eat, it’s their fault they don’t have enough to eat,” and mentioned alcoholics and drug addicts.
“You are asking people who may have be struggling themselves to put food on the table to give their tax money to you and then you are not even going to buy food with it you are going to buy booze and drugs with it,” O’Reilly said.
“The problem I have, as I stated, is that you are helping one group by hurting another group and a bigger group. And so I don’t know if Jesus is going to be down with that.”
Limbaugh went after the pope Wednesday after President Obama cited the pontiff Wednesday while talking about economic inequality.
“Some of you may have seen just last week, the pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length,” Obama said, citing the pope’s written remarks from last week.
“This is the president citing the pope, his new best friend, because the pope is ripping America, the pope ripping capitalism. And Obama’s having an orgasm,” Limbaugh said.
DuBois told ABC News today, “I think this is a time of real soul searching for the Republican Party… Pope Francis is forcing the issue forcing a conversation about poverty and inequality.”
The pastor said the food stamp program “is being unfairly maligned particularly by House Republicans. Most of the people on food stamps in this country don’t want to be on food stamps. They’re working hard to figure out how to put food on the table. I was trying to communicate to bill on others.”