Catholic Bishops Privately Meet With Senators Ahead Of Pope’s Climate Encyclical

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Catholic bishops joined Senate lawmakers in a closed-door meeting Wednesday ahead of Pope Francis’s highly anticipated encyclical on global warming.

The private meeting was co-hosted by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. It’s not expected to draw a big crowd, but meeting participants could discuss the roll-out of the encyclical that is expected to be released next month.

“The bishops asked us to host this briefing,” Collins told Politico’s Morning Energy. “I don’t know what they’re going to say … so I look forward to finding out.”

Sen. Whitehouse’s office did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on the closed-door meeting.

The meeting, hosted in the Capitol Building, will feature Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski and New Mexico Bishop Oscar Cantú who will attend the event on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

Collins said she’s curious what the bishops “are going to say that the pope will be proclaiming because this is not an issue that I think of the pope speaking out on.”

“But of course one of the refreshing aspects of the new pope is that he does speak out on a lot of issues which the church has been silent traditionally,” Collins said.

Pope Francis’s decision to weigh in on global warming was met with praise from liberals and environmentalists, but drew criticism from more conservative Catholics. It’s expected that Francis will declare global warming a threat to humanity and chastise people for using carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels.

A paper released after a Vatican meeting on global warming said that fossil fuel “exploitation has also taken a huge toll on human well being.”

“To save as much of the sustainable fabric of the world as possible, we need to take many steps, among them reaching a level and sustainable population; just consumption rates throughout the world; the empowerment of women and children everywhere and their incorporation into the management of our one planet; and the development of many new and more sustainable technologies that must be made widely available,” reads the paper prepared by Vatican advisors.

The United Nations has also urged the Vatican to take up the fight against global warming. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called global warming a “moral issue” and former Vice President Al Gore said he “could become Catholic” because of the pope’s perceived stance on warming.

A group of global warming skeptics even showed up in Rome to present an alternative view of warming to Pope Francis.

“We’re here to prevent the pope from making the mistake of having the UN as an advisor, because he won’t be getting the whole picture,” Jim Lakely, a conservative Heartland Institute spokesman, told Crux.

The pope’s top advisor, however, lambasted those who were skeptical of global warming.

“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga recently told a news conference.

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