Pope Francis was quick to praise President Barack Obama’s plan to fight global warming during a Wednesday morning speech at the White House. Francis extolled Obama for “reducing air pollution” and taking the fight against global warming seriously.
“It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation,” Francis told those gathered at the White House. “When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment in history.”
Francis echoed the themes of “sustainable development” and “human ecology” that he wrote in his encyclical on global warming earlier this year. His letter, called Laudato Si, earned him praise from environmentalists, but met with critical conservatives who saw it as an attack on capitalism and industrialization.
Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar, a Catholic, even said he was boycotting the pope’s appearance before Congress this week over the pontiff’s remarks on global warming. Gosar wrote that Francis had “adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ‘climate justice’ and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.”
“If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous,” Gosar wrote for the conservative news site Townhall.com.
Conservatives have been angry with Francis for travelling to to Cuba and being uncritical of the country’s oppressive Castro regime. To add to Francis’ challenges, U.S. Bishops seem unconcerned with global warming, instead focusing on what they see as more pressing issues, like gay marriage and abortion.
“For some bishops absolutely the priority is abortion. Every other issue is relativised,” Michael Sean Winters with the National Catholic Register told The Guardian. “There is no ambiguity in the church position on abortion.”
Either way, Francis continues to push for a global climate treaty and phasing out fossil fuels. At the White House Wednesday, Francis seemed optimistic that the world would enact policy changes to address global warming, saying that “we know that things can change.”
“Such change demands on our part a serious a serious and responsible recognition of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children,” Francis said, adding that mankind needed “responsible and conscious care of our common home.”
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