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Papal Encyclical Deprives the GOP of its Last Vestige of Legitimacy

Stalwart GOP climate deniers such as James Inhofe have lost  all vestige of credibility Climate denying Republicans can no longer take refuge in religion. Those who eschew the virtues of science have been morally defrocked by the Pope’s recent rejection. In the process of calling for bold environmental action, the Pope has admonished conservative critics in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The Pope squarely addressed Republican climate deniers when he said, “It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment.”

The Pope’s encyclical refutes of the GOP’s position on the environment, pollution and climate change. The papal document even goes after a key tenant of right wing philosophy with the words,  “the conservative ideal of individualism is undermining the common good.” His use of the term common good is deliberately interwoven with planetary health.

The Pope’s position on the environment is attracting vociferous resistance from Catholic climate skeptics. This includes men like John Boehner, the Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, a Republican presidential candidate.

Comments from American conservatives have prompted a response from the Pope’s closest adviser, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga.  He singled out profit focused capitalist motivations from “movements in the United States.”

Earlier this year, Stephen Moore, a Catholic economist, called the Pope a “complete disaster”, saying he was part of “a radical green movement that is at its core anti-Christian, anti-people and anti-progress”. Greg Gutfeld from Fox News referred to the Pope as the “most dangerous man in the world.”

Resistance to the Papal Encyclical is being organized by the fossil fuel funded Heartland Institute. During the Vatican’s recent climate summit, the Institute staged a parallel event featuring speakers that challenged the science of climate-change.

“The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust,” said Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast. “Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth – in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity. Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.”

Also at this event was Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He agreed with those conservatives who warned the Pope to stay away from climate change. It is no coincidence that Inhofe, who calls global warming a “myth”, has received more than $2 million from the oil industry.

The GOP is fighting a losing battle. While Pope Francis is one of the most trusted and popular people on Earth, Republicans are increasingly being perceived as some of the most unscrupulous and politically opportunistic climate deniers on the planet.

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Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business site and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

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