Candidates Should Rethink Impious Remarks on Encyclical

“…man is not the lord of creation, with an omnipotent will, but a part of creation, with limitations, who ought to observe a decent humility in the face of the inscrutable.” Richard Weaver Pope Francis’ recently released Encyclical on the environment (Ladauto Si’) drew dismissive comments from two Catholic GOP presidential candidates. Just before the Encyclical was released, Rick Santorum commented “...we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is … theology and morality.” After its release, Jeb Bush quipped “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.” Bush also added that religion “ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.” These comments are striking in just how selective and limiting they portray the role of faith. As Christians, it can be assumed that both Santorum and Bush believe that God created the earth and charged man with its stewardship. If so, it is hard to understand how they can dismiss care of the environment–whether the issue is mercury pollution that harms the unborn, climate change, or wildlife protection–as being completely outside the realm of faith and morality. Such an attitude is impious. Just last week a very conservative study published in the Journal of Science Advances found that because of human actions the earth is experiencing a mass extinction of wildlife species. Extinction rates over the past century are up to 100 times higher than natural average background rates. The report notes that “loss of biodiversity is one of the most critical current environmental problems,...