Pope Francis at Odds With Conservative Faithful

Tuesday, 11 Mar 2014 01:16 PM

By Joe Battaglia

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As he nears the first anniversary as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis finds himself at odds with the conservative faithful.

Since succeeding Benedict XVI, who became the first sitting Pope to retire from office in almost 600 years, Francis has won affection worldwide for his humble demeanor and common touch. His approval numbers worldwide are skyrocketing, even among nonbelievers.

But not everyone is cheering, particularly conservative members of the GOP.

Francis:Pope’s Hidden Life Revealed.

The pontiff has been outspoken in his criticism of what he sees as a global obsession with materialism and consumerism, calling it a "new and ruthless idolatry of money." In advocating for an increased need of mercy, he added that to "not to share one's wealth with the poor is to steal from them."

Also, Francis has accused the media of being misguided in reporting the ups and downs of the stock market while ignoring the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. His "Apostolic Exhortation" ripped the technology sector for driving the "deterioration of cultural roots" in nations that are "economically advanced but ethically debilitated."

These views have put the Pope at odds with influential conservatives such as radio show host Rush Limbaugh.

"If it weren't for capitalism, I don't know where the Catholic Church would be," Limbaugh said last year. "I have been numerous times to the Vatican.  It wouldn't exist without tons of money."

There are likely more polarizing changes on the horizon.

In interviews with newspapers Corriere della Sera in Italy and La Nacion in Argentina, the Pope suggested that the time has come for women to play a greater role in the church's hierarchy, according to The Wall Street Journal. He indicated that a senior cardinal is now consulting female experts in considering what those options may be.

"Women must have a greater presence in the decision-making areas of the church," Francis said. "But I would call this a 'functional' promotion. That won't take us very far."

The GOP has long fought the perception that it has a "women problem." It has tutored its male politicians specifically on how to run against women for office, and faces the prospect of contending with Democrat Hillary Clinton in the run for the White House in 2016.

Francis also indicated that the church may be open to supporting certain cases of civil unions.

"Matrimony is between a man and a woman," Francis said, affirming traditional marriage, "but diverse situations of cohabitation [are] driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care. It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety."

In 2012, the Republican platform committee rejected an amendment that would have endorsed civil unions for gay couples.

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