Mindless skeptics don’t like the inclusive, nonjudgmental message of Pope Francis. But Adam Shaw, a news editor at FoxNews.com, wins the prize for stunning leaps of logic and rhetoric. The headline says it all: “Pope Francis is the Catholic Church’s Obama — God Help Us.”

Like Obama, Francis is unable to see the problems that are really endangering his people. Like Obama he mistakes the faithful for the enemy, the enemy for his friend, condescension for respect, socialism for justice and capitalism for tyranny.

Once upon a time, Christian leaders were deemed above reproach by social conservatives. And if said leader were the pope, then heaven help the person (read liberal) who criticized him, his pronouncements or the tenets of the Catholic Church. Not anymore. Shaw’s astonishing post shows that not even the pope is off limits to the fury of the far right. The pope’s words against the downside of capitalism, not to mention his exhortation to not “obsess” over social issues at the expense of the church’s greater message, make him sound more like a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ than many of his holier-than-thou critics. In addition, Shaw’s linking of the pope and the president shows that hatred of Obama knows no bounds. But, hey, at least the two are in good company for the right reason.

I first learned about this jaw-dropping comparison from MSNBC’s Karen Finney. She was wise to alert me to it before we discussed it on air ,for I would have been rendered speechless (which makes for bad TV). Reza Aslan and Mary Curtis hammer away at the Pope’s critics here and here. Michael Gerson does so more obliquely today here.

“Limbaugh is right. Somebody did get to Pope Francis,” Aslan wrote last month referring to radio right-winger Rush Limbaugh. “It was Jesus.” After a gem like that, there’s nothing more I could add to his critique.

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