Say what you want about Pope Francis, but after 15 years of sex scandals involving priests, this pontiff made it cool to be Catholic again.
Tomorrow, Pope Francis will deliver a papal encyclical on the environment. And later this year, he’ll visit the US and speak at the United Nations just before the UN’s meeting on climate change in Paris.
All of this has the Republican presidential candidates and an army of GOP strategists whipped into a frenzy. There's the usual rage from Rush Limbaugh. And Jeb Bush dissed the pope
in his first speech as a declared candidate. Go, Jeb!
The real shocker came from ultraconservative Catholic Rick Santorum. Basically all of the GOP candidates seem to think that the pope should stick to issues that they think is more in line with their religious liking, such as anti-abortion and anti-marriage-equality messages.
But Pope Francis hasn’t shied away from controversy, especially when it comes to bringing attention to the world’s poor. The pope is likely to talk about climate change in moral terms. For instance, all of mankind will suffer from climate change, but the poor will certainly be the most vulnerable. Drought, scarce resources, disease, violence, and unstable governments are making conditions dire for women and children in many parts of the world.
Shouldn’t we be as concerned about them as much as we are about drought-stricken farms in California and homes and businesses built in known storm pathways on the Southern and Eastern shorelines?
Most of the GOP candidates have been quick to point out that Pope Francis, though he studied chemical engineering as a young man, is not a scientist. But why would that matter to them? They ignore warnings from scientists anyway.
Bush said he wouldn’t look to the pope for economic solutions. Then again, someone who can’t answer a simple question about whether the war in Iraq was a good or bad idea is in no position to criticize.