Thursday, June 18, 2015

CNN: Pope Hands GOP Climate Change Dilemma

Climate refugees (Credit: CNN) Click to Enlarge.
Republicans eyeing the White House are caught between two political blasphemies:  angering the conservative base and disagreeing with a very popular Pope.

Pope Francis released a highly anticipated papal document on climate change and the environment on Thursday, calling the fight against global warming a moral imperative and "one of the principal challenges facing humanity."

In the 180-page letter, which carries enormous weight within the Catholic community and marks a significant milestone in the global climate change debate, Francis warns that human activity is largely responsible for "global environmental deterioration" and that humans must fundamentally change their consumption patterns.

The encyclical is already resonating in American politics.

Social conservatives in the Republican Party have long been aligned with the Catholic Church on controversial issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research.  But since assuming the papacy in 2013, Francis has adopted a notably progressive tone, drawing a contrast between himself and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.  He's cautioned that the church has become "obsessed" with issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception and has appealed to Catholic leaders to focus on preaching inclusion and love.

Now, his official exploration of climate change presents a new and delicate dilemma for some Catholic Republican politicians, including several candidates seeking the GOP nomination for president in 2016.

Their challenge is to navigate the tension between the church's aggressive stance on climate, with a powerful slice of the party's base -- including the fossil fuel industry -- that balks at sweeping environmental regulations.
The Pope's entry into the U.S. debate on climate change will come in two stages: first the release of his encyclical this week, and then a speech before a joint session of Congress in September.

Read more at Pope Hands GOP Climate Change Dilemma

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