While some Catholics have questioned Pope Francis’s adherence to church doctrine, fresh criticism has been launched against the 78-year-old pontiff by conservatives who claim he is also anti-American.
The criticism and debate about Francis has intensified ahead of his visit to the United States next week. His decision to visit Cuba first was among the negatives expressed. Pope John Paul II, a fierce anti-communist, would be turning in his grave, said one commentator.
Yahoo News noted that from Wall Street to the Tea Party, critics have slammed Argentine Francis as as a poorly camouflaged Marxist and the debate is intensifying prior to his visit.
The pope’s attacks on those who worship the “God of money” and his criticisms of an unjust global economic system have caused his critics to claim he is a “camouflaged Marxist,” the AFP reports.
Vatican expert Andrea Tornielli says he doesn't believe the pope is anti-American.
"What he has said about a savage financial system, an economy that kills, an idolatry of money, is part of the Church's social doctrine," Tornielli said.
It is, however, "a doctrine in many aspects forgotten by those who, even in Catholic circles, glorify the current system as the best of all possible worlds, and who continue to say that the markets should be even freer because it's the only solution to end poverty and hunger.”
Some U.S. bishops say the pope has not given them enough support against the Obama administration over abortion, contraception and gay marriage.
Other critics slam the pope for choosing to visit places such as Albania and Sri Lanka before Washington and for hardly mentioning the United States in his writings.
Austen Ivereigh, author of a biography of the pope, says, "For him, the United States is not the center of the world.”
Experts say that while the pope may praise the country as a land of freedom, he will also not hesitate to confront the ultra-conservative, xenophobic and religious right wing.
John Allen, a religious expert who writes for the Crux website, said of Francis that "there are unmistakable signals that he sees the United States as part of the problem as much as the solution.
"He feels some of the same ambivalence about the United States many Latin American bishops do," says Allen.
"It's a mix of awe about the economic and military power of the country, and respect for the generosity of Americans in times of need, combined with resentment over the checkered history of the US in Latin America and doubts about the fundamental justice of the global economic system the US represents.”
Papal biographer Marco Politi said Pope Francis's main aim is for "America to reflect on the growing gulf between billions of poor people and a small group of super-rich.”
Vatican expert Iacopo Scaramuzzi thinks Francis “will be firm but not combative” and will keep “an open attitude to North American culture.”
What do you think of the critiscism against Pope Francis? Is it justified or completely unfounded? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.