Pope Francis's concerns about global warming and climate change are outside his expertise and may not be taken seriously by practicing Catholics, says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
"I don't care whether it's Pope Francis or his predecessors or his successors someday. Once you get outside the domain, of faith and morals, be careful and be careful particularly when you get into the weeds and get very specific," Donohue said Monday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"For example, are we God's stewards? Are we supposed to take care of the Earth? Of course, that's out of the Old Testament, it's out of the New Testament, it's totally unobjectionable.
"Now we might get a little bit more specific, but the more specific you become on something like this, well what happens is Catholics will scratch their head and say, well he's a very nice man."
Francis is expected to release an encyclical — a teaching document — warning about the dangers of climate change and how mankind must pay attention to it by the end of June. The pontiff is also expected to bring up the issue when he addresses Congress in September.
"Catholics will offer him respect, but in terms of accepting what he has to say as guiding their thoughts, no, it's not going to happen," said Donohue, author of "The Catholic Advantage: Why Health, Happiness, and Heaven Await the Faithful,"
published by Image.
"We know, for example, that even on issues as the death penalty, for example, or on gun control or on helping the poor, there's a lot of different issues where Catholics can disagree on.
"When it comes to things which are nonnegotiable – let me give you two quick ones: abortion and euthanasia. It's not my opinion, it's in the Catechism. It says these are intrinsically evil. No one has ever said that air pollution is intrinsically evil."
Last week, Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, a practicing Catholic, said Francis — who has a science degree from a two-year college — shouldn't be talking about climate change.
On Sunday, Santorum defended his opinion, telling Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday" that "there are more pressing problems on Earth" for the pontiff to be taking on.
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