The Pope Says Climate Change Is Real. Catholic GOP Candidates Disagree.

Here’s what they have to say about whether humans are warming the planet.

Pope Francis, October 2013.iStock


Since ascending to the Catholic Church’s top perch in March 2013, Pope Francis hasn’t shied away from taking political stances that rankle conservatives. He has said evolution and creationism aren’t mutually exclusive. Asked about gay priests, he responded, “Who am I to judge?” And he has embraced a populist approach to tackling income inequality.

Now the pope risks drawing conservative ire on climate change. In a document set to be released on Thursday—which leaked to an Italian publication and was published as an act of “sabotage against the pope,” according to a Vatican official—Francis will apparently call for a strong, multi-country push to curb global warming and the “human causes that produce and accentuate it,” according to the Guardian. The message will reportedly call out climate deniers, saying “the attitudes that stand in the way of a solution, even among believers, range from negation of the problem, to indifference, to convenient resignation or blind faith in technical solutions.”

There’s a growing contingent of congressional Republicans who are Catholic, and a number of the party’s leading presidential candidates (or potential candidates) are Catholic. If those candidates’ past statements on climate change are any indication, they could soon find themselves at odds with the pope over the looming encyclical. Here’s what they’ve said:

Rick Santorum: “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”

Jeb Bush: Bush responded directly to the pope on Tuesday, stating at a New Hampshire town hall meeting, “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 cardinal or my pope. I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor’s views might be the most in line with the pope’s: “I think global warming is real. I don’t think that’s deniable. And I do think human activity contributes to it.”

Bobby Jindal: While acknowledging that human activity has had an impact on the climate, Jindal has decried Obama’s environmental regulations as “reckless and based on a radical leftist ideology that will kill American jobs and increase energy prices,” according to the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio: “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That’s what I do not. And I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”

This article has been updated to include Bush’s Tuesday remark.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate