Can the ‘Green Pope’ Change Minds On Climate Change?


April 27, 2015 | National Journal | Jason Plauts

The progressive Pope Francis is holding a summit today at the Vatican to discuss climate change with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, ahead of an expected major papal statement on the moral responsibility mankind has for dealing with its causes. This article from National Journal says this so-called encyclical could come as early as June.

Francis has listed climate change as a moral issue before, but releasing an encyclical “is kind of the premier statement that any Pope can make,” said Jame Schaefer, a theology and environmental ethics professor at Marquette University, in the National Journal piece.

Depending on how strong the call to action is in the statement, it will leave many in the U.S. looking to conservative Catholic politicians who doubt the science of human-caused climate change, such as U.S. House Speaker John Boehner and Republican presidential candidate, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Meanwhile, the climate skeptic Heartland Institute has also sent representatives to nearby Rome this week to speak against the encyclical, urging the pope not to be “misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations.”

The article also points to a November 2014 study by the Public Religion Research Institute, which found faith groups divided on climate change, “with the typically Republican-leaning groups — like white Catholics and white evangelicals — tending to be skeptics.”

We haven’t had a whole lot of papal coverage so far here at Inside Energy, but here’s a piece from our own Leigh Paterson on the difficulties arguing for action on climate change on the campaign trail in Wyoming.