The current vicar of Christ on Earth, His Holiness the Pope, seems to have had a relatively comfortable relationship with secular-minded people. This is odd since previous popes had not been fortunate enough to enjoy such support from the left. (Mussolini’s pet pope Pious XI comes to mind.) Pope Francis’s calls against the excesses of capitalism and to end hatred against the LGBTQ community in general have more-or-less made him one of the more likable popes while simultaneously prompting outrage and indignation from the far right.
Talk-radio host Michael Savage once called the Pope a Marxist “through-and-through” and on another occasion made the remark that the Pope is an authority on “religious matters, not political matters” before proceeding to belittle the pope’s leftist South American upbringing as only an aging relic of American xenophobia can.
The pope’s left-leaning sentiments were not, of course, shared by many former popes—and, if popes are supposed to be infallible, it makes little sense that their messages and the perceptions non-Catholics have of them should differ so widely. Francis’s “novelty” thus provokes an interesting question: which Pope knew his lord best? Is it the amiable Pope Francis or one of his many awful predecessors? God-only-knows and unfortunately Christ is no longer around to weigh in on the matter.