Acton Institute Powerblog

Pope Francis and his fans on the left

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

Since 2013 when the Argentine prelate Jorge Bergoglio officially became the head of the Catholic Church, he has emerged as a key figure in the progressive movement.  Even though Pope Francis does not claim to be a part of any political movement, it is clear that he is representative of the views that many leftists hold.  With his emergence has come much criticism from Catholics who hold opposing views on issues such as environmentalism and the market economy. Acton Institute Director of Research Samuel Gregg has penned op-eds and blog posts for a number of publications that take Francis to task on his economic pronouncements and even the way he presents the Catholic faith.

This past week in the Wall Street Journal Francis X. Rocca described how Pope Francis became so popular among progressives in a piece titled “How Pope Francis Became the Leader of the Global Left.”  He describes Francis’ influence on different grass root activists and even the time when Sen. Bernie Sanders — a self-described socialist — left the campaign trail to visit the Vatican for a meeting with Francis. Toward the end of his article Rocca quotes Gregg:

Critics warn that, by aligning himself too closely with one end of the political spectrum, the pope could alienate more conservative Catholics. In the recent U.S. presidential election, according to exit polls, more than half of Catholic voters chose Mr. Trump. “The global left clearly see an opportunity to appropriate the prestige of the papacy for their causes,” said Samuel Gregg, director of research at the Acton Institute, a Michigan-based think tank with a religious, free-market approach. “That introduces polarization in the church about issues that Catholics are free to disagree about.”

You can read the full article where Gregg is quoted here in the Wall Street Journal.

Kyle Hanby


  • “After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, ‘Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I
    tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is
    the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.”–Gospel of John 13:12-17

    Although popes in imitation of Jesus still ceremoniously wash the feet of others, usually newly ordained priests, the message I take from this passage that what Jesus was teaching was there are to be no popes, nor cardinals, nor bishops nor any hierarchy whatsoever among his disciples. When Francis was first installed he took some measures that suggested the Church was in for a more humble papacy, but as I read the Gospel, nothing short of abolishing the hierarchy could satisfy Jesus’ prescription for his followers.

    • Abomination of the Desolation

      No pope. No bishops. No priests. No nothing. Not to worry. Francis will do just that.

  • Austin

    The “Progressive Movement” is a fiction in someone’s imagination. Reality: Democrats getting fired from the White House, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Congress, state governor mansions, and state legislators.

    Read ’em and weep.