Following the release of leaked portions of Pope Francis' forthcoming encyclical on climate change, several conservative congressmen told Newsmax about their concerns over the sure-to-be controversial document.
Officially titled "Laudato Sii (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home," the leaked draft copy of the encyclical (official church teaching) depicts "climate change as a moral rather than a political issue," according to Reuters.
The official encyclical, to be released on Thursday, will reportedly condemn the lifestyles of upscale nations for their impact on climate change and underscore the Pope's long-held belief that the changing environment has had a negative impact, especially on the world's poor.
"I would like to read [Pope Francis'] full statement on this topic," Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., told Newsmax on Tuesday, noting that many "of his statements — on human life, marriage, and the family — have been misreported in the press."
Three-termer Huelskamp spoke to us at "Conversations with Conservatives," a monthly session on Capitol Hill between conservative Republicans in the House and reporters. A practicing Roman Catholic, Huelskamp serves as a minister of hospitality who greets parishioners almost every week at his home church.
He said that "if the encyclical identifies man as the major cause of climate change, I doubt it will identify the proper solution."
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., also a Roman Catholic, said "my Dad is a geologist" and told Newsmax that he and his father have both looked carefully at the history of the Earth. Gosar stated that "climate change was occurring all the time in the history of Earth. During the Mesozoic Period [ending about 66 million years ago], the climate changed and that was a time when man was not even on the Earth."
If the Pope's encyclical seeks to fix the blame for climate change on man, Gosar told us, "it will be a conundrum for him to have a conversation about it."
Leaks of the Pope's encyclical came on the heels of a just-completed Pew Research poll showing that Roman Catholics in the U.S. are sharply divided over climate change and who is responsible. According to the survey, 71 percent of Catholics nationwide believe the Earth is warming, slightly more than the 68 percent of the overall American public who believe that.
As for those who believe that warming is "caused by human activity," Pew found that the figure is 47 percent among Catholics and 45 percent among the overall public. Among Catholic Republicans, however, only 24 percent believe this, while 62 percent of Catholic Democrats and 48 percent of Catholic independents agree.
Among Catholics, 48 percent believe the warming "is a very serious problem," as do 46 percent of the general public. Only 24 percent of Catholic Republicans believe this, compared to 64 percent of Catholic Democrats and 49 percent of Catholic independents.
Speculation about a powerful papal statement on climate change has been mounting for days.
On June 9, French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal predicted to Newsmax and other reporters that Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change "will be a key moment" in the move from a carbon-based to a "green" economy.
During a press breakfast at the French ambassador's residence in Washington, Royal emphasized that "the argument of the Pope will augment the fight" and "awaken people" to the cause of climate change.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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