It's been a banner year for Pope Francis. In just his first nine months, Francis has been namedTIME's "Person of the Year," snagged a cover of the New Yorker, and single-handedly recast the narrative of the Vatican. No longer is the Church focused on hot-button social issues like condemning gays and gay marriage, staunchly opposing abortion, and spending all of its time hating on contraception. Instead, Francis has led the Church back on a path of caring for the less fortunate and helping those in need by, in part, promoting his own brand of "Popenomics."
In recent speeches and statements, Francis has been swift and firm in condemning the free-market economics of unchecked capitalism as "a new tyranny," arguing against "trickle-down" economics as an "opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, [that] expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power." He has said, "We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market." Francis has instead been pushing a more populist message that violantes manycore principles of anti-spending and anti-big government that define the Republican Party.
Because of this, the GOP may be losing an ally in the Catholic Church that is had depended on for so long, and some on the right are beginning to worry. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called the pope's comments "pure Marxism," while other have labelled Francis as the Catholic Church's Obama (and not in a good way). Going a different route, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) implied that Francis, being from Argentina, has only seen "crony capitalism" and not "real capitalism," and therefore can't possibly understand its true potential.
But as much as conservatives complain, they're going to be hard pressed to get Francis (the pope, the Bishop of Rome, and the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church) to change his mind. So what is the GOP to do? As long as the Republican Party continues to spread its anti-government, pro-free market capitalism ideals, and Pope Francis continues to preach his anti-"trickle down" Popenomics, the two will be at odds, and the party could be in danger of losing the support of the Church and its many, many supporters (read: votes). The GOP is no stranger to playing a game of chicken with his values, but this might be one game they can't risk losing.