Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday that he had "no problem" with Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change, but said he would only back policies that protect the nation's economy.
"I have no problem with what the pope did," the senator, who is Roman Catholic, said before speaking at Lincoln Day Dinner sponsored by the Miami-Dade County Republican Party. "He is a moral authority and as a moral authority is reminding us of our obligation to be good caretakers to the planet."
Rubio's comments were reported by The Miami Herald.
"I'm a political leader," he told reporters. "And my job as a policymaker is to act in the common good. And I do believe it's in the common good to protect our environment, but I also believe it's in the common good to protect our economy."
In a 190-page document released on Thursday, Pope Francis put forth his theological arguments for the need to reduce climate change and protect the environment. He entitled the encyclical "Laudato Si" (Praise Be).
The pope said that the continuing human damage to nature was "one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity."
The solution, according to the pontiff, requires self-sacrifice and a "bold cultural revolution" worldwide.
Rubio, who announced his candidacy in April, said that he was more concerned about addressing the consequences of climate change — though he questioned scientific assumptions on the issue.
"I don' think there is a scientific consensus on what percent, how sensitive, climate is to human activity," he said. "But the broader question as a policymaker is not whether I believe humans have contributed 10 percent, 50 percent or 99 percent.
"The fundamental question I have as a policymaker must be what can we do about it and what impact will it have on the rest of our country and the rest of our lives? And what I am not going to support are measures that will hurt our economy and put people out of work and increase the cost of living."
The first-term senator initially responded to the question by slamming Democrats who support Pope Francis on climate change but not social issues, the Herald reports.
"I find it ironic that a lot of the same liberals who are touting the encyclical on climate change ignore multiple pronouncements of this pope on the definition of marriage and on the sanctity of life," Rubio said.
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