Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Pope's views on climate change are trouble for conservative Catholics, presidential contenders

Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change is due out today (Thursday). Early reports (including a leaked copy) on what he is likely to say are troublesome for two groups: Republican Catholics and a handful of Presidential candidates who are themselves Catholic. The NY Times has a report.

In a draft of the document leaked on Monday, Francis reiterated the established science that burning fossil fuels are warming the planet, said the impact threatened the world’s poor and called for government policies to cut fossil fuel use.

Jeb Bush's response: Pope should butt out

Speaking at a campaign event in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Mr. Bush did not wait for the official release of Francis’ encyclical to criticize his foray into climate change policy.

"I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope," Mr. Bush said. "And I’d like to see what he says as it relates to climate change and how that connects to these broader, deeper issues before I pass judgment. But I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm."

So any "things that end up getting in the political realm" are off limits to the Pope? What other things are off limits? Are these "political realm" things also outside scientific study? And what issues are "broader, deeper" than the climate change that so threatens coastal cities like Miami. (Where, incidentally, Bush attends mass.)

Reactions among Catholics mirror national divisions on climate change

"From the moment he steps into that chamber and talks about climate change, it’s going to be taken as a political statement," said the Rev. Robert Sirico, executive director of the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty, a policy group that endorses free-market economics. "For the conservatives, it’s going to be very uncomfortable. Republicans are going to have a hard time on the environment."

However, for the larger population of Catholics, polling tells a different story.

A poll this month by the Pew Research Center, however, found that the views of American Catholics on global warming are broadly reflective of American public opinion and that 86 percent of Catholics in this country say they view the pope favorably.

The poll found that 71 percent of Catholics in the United States believe the planet is getting warmer, but that there is a sharp division along partisan lines.

Half of Catholic Republicans say there is solid evidence that Earth is warming, compared with eight out of 10 Catholic Democrats. And only about a quarter of Catholic Republicans say global warming is man-made and poses a serious problem, while six in 10 Catholic Democrats agree with those statements.

Climate change is a matter of science, and so is human contribution to such change. It is a "political statement" only because the Republican denialists and fossil fuel addicts have made it so.

Scriber looks forward to the encyclical. Go Pope!

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