Jacksonville Councilman doubles down on describing Pope Francis as a ‘communist’
Jax City Councilman Bill Gulliford (Photo: A.G. Gancarski)

Bill Gulliford

Is Pope Francis a Catholic? Or is the Pontiff a communist?

Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Gulliford has a take.

“I am a Catholic and he is a Communist,” Gulliford said of Pope Francis on Facebook Thursday, reacting to an online publication (M2 Voice) that said the Pope asserted that “world government must rule the United States ‘for their own good’.”

Notable: the quote was not in the original interview the website claimed to cite, which was conducted in Italian and translated by Agence France Presse before the M2 Voice aggregation.

Gulliford’s comments drew sharp criticism online Thursday, and on Friday, we reached out to him for further clarification — and many of his comments came back to schisms in the Church between the conservative American Catholic wing and the “liberation theology” school from which Pope Francis hails.

“Liberation theology,” said Gulliford, is a “form of Christian communism,” and one that Francis’ “narratives and pronouncements” still echo.

“All he talks about is social justice,” Gulliford added.

“If he is the head of the Catholic Church, he should put salvation over social justice,” Gulliford continued, adding that “any friend of the United Nations is no friend of mine.”

Gulliford also believes that, even if the quote he reacted to was not in the interview, there is plenty of evidence of Francis’ anti-American animus, reflected in his comments against the United States, which reflect a “definite anti-American bent.”

Gulliford also noted that “Pope Benedict XVI condemned liberation theology as being in conflict with Catholic doctrine.”

Meanwhile, several Catholics with a different take weighed in Friday also.

“When right-wing politicians and conservative media pundits don’t want to hear what Pope Francis has to say about inequality or the failure of trickle-down economics, they hurl the communist epithet at him,” said John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, and author of The Francis Effect.

“But the pope’s economic message is rooted in traditional Catholic teaching. The catechism of the church talks about inequality as sinful. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI strongly challenged free-market fundamentalism. Conservative Catholics have a history of conveniently wishing that part of their own church tradition away.”

A local Priest offered a similar sentiment.

“Pope Francis stands solidly in line with his predecessors. William F. Buckley, Jr. rejected Pope John XXIII’s Mater et Magistra, and admirers of Pope John Paul II cherry picked from his teaching on communism and capitalism, passing over his critiques of the latter while trumpeting his critiques of the former,” said Jacksonville local Pastor Tim Lozier of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

“I absolutely agree that Pope Francis is simply preaching the Gospel … and we all are often more aligned with the worldly values of success and prosperity than we are with the values Jesus taught and lived.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Karen Riley

    July 14, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    This gentleman has the religious education at the level of a kindergartener. He needs to look up the word salvation which means “to be made whole”. Not just indivisible wholeness; collective. Individual “sin”( an archery term meaning miss the mark” is not the point! We are here to deal with the corporate “sins” of sexism, racism, poverty etc.

    • Karen Riley

      July 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      Individual not indivisible

  • Peter Harding

    July 14, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Councilman Bill Gulliford of Jacksonville’s district 13 is a hypocrite. He claims to be a catholic but calls the Catholic Pope a communist. I suppose he would call Jesus a communist too and he conveniently overlooks the catholic catechism that teaches inequality is sinful. This is what our small minded politicians will do to attract attention to themselves no matter how foolish they look to the rest of the world. We should not expect anything less from a Trump supporter and the political party he represents.

  • David Bruderly

    July 14, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    If this Florida conservative thinks that liberation theology and social and economic justice, which are fundamental tenets of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights and subsequent Amendments, are forms of Christian Communism, then what does that say about his religious and political philosophy?

  • Scott

    July 14, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    So Gulliford thinks Pope Francis is a communist. I disagree completely. I don’t blame the councilman for his comments, he’s a throwback to a time when we had an irrational fear of other ways than ours. Much of what our Pope says is spot on, especially when it comes to the insatiable greed some people have in the face of so much famine and poverty in the world. Too bad Mr. Gulliford can’t see past the outdated dogma from the cold war and feels the best course of action is to disparage our Holy See. SMH

  • Sean

    July 16, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    The councilman is 100% spot on by calling out Pope Francis for what he really is. Francis claims to be for the greater good of humanity but wants world government? World government would turn out to be modern day slavery, with elites controlling every aspect of our lives. We’ve seen socialism/communism fail again and again. Francis is using the Catholic church to be protected from promoting his dangerous ideas. Nobody is above the law.

  • Jonathan Daugherty

    July 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I would say Pope Francis is more of a Socialist than a Communist.

    That is fine though. Christ throughout his ministry always taught the early church to live in community and care for one another.

    Acts 2-5 teaches socialism (or communism) Acts 2:44-45 says that immediately following Pentecost “44all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as any might have need.” In Acts 4:32-35, it says of the early congregation that “not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them [….] 34For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales, 35lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each as any had need.”

  • Peter Harding

    July 16, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    “…turn out to be modern day slavery, with elites controlling every aspect of our lives.” Funny but that sounds like pure capitalism with christian fundamentalism mixed in to me. I believe Francis is teaching the gospel but his message is being twisted to fit a narrow political theology that wants to reject what faithful catholics recognize as sinful inequality which is what “good” protestants do.

  • Paul Duca

    July 16, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    I don’t know if this guy is a Mother Angelica Catholic (obey the church, even if it pisses you off), or a Mel Gibson one (build your own “True Catholic ” church)

Comments are closed.


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