Leftism’s influence on Western religion
Last week, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, the religious leader of a billion people, gave the visiting president of the United States, the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, a parting gift.
It was a copy of something the pope had written. A papal encyclical, in fact.
Was it on the annihilation of Christians in the Middle East? Was it on the ongoing disappearance of Christianity in Western Europe? Was it on evil in the name of God being perpetrated by radical Muslims around the world, especially in Europe, the Middle East and the United States?
It was on climate change.
It was not surprising.
Last year, five days after an 86-year-old French priest had his throat slit by two Muslims yelling “Allahu Akbar,” Pope Francis was interviewed on the papal airplane returning to Rome from Krakow, Poland. A Catholic journalist, Antoine Marie Izoard, with i.Media, a French Catholic news service, asked the pope about the French priest and Islam:
Izoard: “Catholics are a bit in shock, and not only in France, after the barbarous assassination of Father Jacques Hamel — as you know well — in his church while celebrating the Holy Mass. Four days ago, you here told us that all religions want peace. But this holy, 86-year-old priest was clearly killed in the name of Islam. So, Holy Father … Why do you, when you speak of these violent events, always speak of terrorists, but never of Islam, never use the word Islam? … Thank you, Holiness.”
As reported by the Catholic News Service, this is what Pope Francis responded:
“I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy … this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law … and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence.”
In other words, the pope likens: 1) a person who happened to have been baptized a Catholic as a child — and who may have no Catholic identity as an adult — with an adult who affirms a religious identity; and 2) the murder of a girlfriend or a mother-in-law — most likely a crime of passion — with the ritual murder of a Catholic priest.
Pope Francis then added that “Terrorism grows when there are no other options, and when the center of the global economy is the god of money. … This is a basic terrorism against all of humanity!”
The idea that Islamic terrorism is a desperate act arising from poverty is widely held among people on the left. But it is completely untrue. Most Islamic terrorists come from the middle class or above, as did the 9/11 hijackers.
The only explanation for these statements is that Pope Francis has inherited his theology from Catholicism but, unlike his immediate predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, he takes much of his moral outlook from leftism — in his case, the leftism that permeates Latin America, including Latin American Catholicism. This is not conjecture. In addition to the comments cited already, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica last November, the pope equated Christianity with communism:
“It is the communists, in all cases, that think like Christians. … What we want is to fight against inequality, the greatest evil that exists in the world.”
The Western combination of Judeo-Christian morality and classical political liberalism — with their doctrines of moral accountability, moral absolutes, confronting evil, and political and social freedom — has produced the most moral societies in world history.
The pope of the Roman Catholic Church should be its greatest advocate.
But because of leftism, he isn’t.
Leftism has had an identical impact on mainstream Protestantism, non-Orthodox Judaism and, of course, secular Jews and non-Jews.
In the past 100 years, leftism has influenced Judaism and Christianity far more than Judaism or Christianity have influenced the world. If you want to understand the modern world, that may be the most important thing to understand.
And that explains why the pope gave the American president his writings on climate change and why he says almost nothing about Islamic violence generally or the decimation of Christianity in Muslim lands specifically. On the left, carbon emissions and economic inequality are the greatest problems confronting humanity. On the right, which includes traditional Jews and Christians, evil — the inhumane treatment of people by other people — is the greatest problem confronting humanity.
In the 1930s and 1940s, the great evil was Nazism; after that, it was communism. And in our time it is Islamism, the movement that seeks to impose Islam on humanity.
But the pope is more concerned with climate change than with slaughtered Christians; mainstream Protestant churches seek to economically strangle Israel; and most non-Orthodox Jews fear climate change more than they fear the Ayatollah Khamenei. Such is the state of mainstream Western religion in our time.
Dennis Prager’s nationally syndicated radio talk show is heard weekdays in Los Angeles on KRLA (AM 870) 9 a.m. to noon. His latest project is the internet-based Prager University (prageru.com).