A leading Catholic congressman says he'll skip next week's speech by Pope Francis on Capitol Hill to protest a pontiff who acts and talks "like a leftist politician" on issues like climate change.
In a scathing opinion piece published Friday on the conservative political blog Townhall.com
, Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, says it's his duty to bow out of Francis's address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.
"Media reports indicate His Holiness instead intends to focus the brunt of his speech on climate change--a climate that has been changing since first created in Genesis," Gosar writes.
"More troubling is the fact that this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ‘climate justice' and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies."
He says if the Pope stuck to "standard Christian theology" — like slamming violent Islamists and urging Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Mideast, "I would be there cheering him."
"But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one," Gosar says.
"The earth's climate has been changing since God created it, with or without man. On that, we should all agree.
"In Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment … he condemned anyone skeptical of the link between human activity and climate change and adopted the false science being propagated by the Left."
Gosar adds that if the Pope "wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous."
Gosar calls himself "a proud Catholic," but says he has a moral obligation and leadership responsibility to "call out leaders, regardless of their titles, who ignore Christian persecution and fail to embrace opportunities to advocate for religious freedom and the sanctity of human life."
"If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend. It is my hope that Pope Francis realizes his time is better spent focusing on matters like religious tolerance and the sanctity of all life," Gosar writes.
"As the leader of the Catholic Church, and as a powerful voice for peace throughout the world, His Holiness has a real opportunity to change the climate of slaughter in the Middle East… not the fool's errand of climate change."
Francis will arrive at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Sept. 22, his first ever to the United States.
The pontiff has been at odds with Republican lawmakers on a number of issues, including climate change and the Iran nuclear deal.
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