Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders praised Pope Francis today for delivering a powerful message on climate change. Sanders also reminded Republicans that they invited the Pope to address them and urged climate change deniers to listen to what Francis is saying.
In a statement Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) urged Republicans to listen to the Pope on climate change, “Pope Francis’ powerful message on climate change should change the debate around the world and become a catalyst for the bold actions needed to reverse global warming. The pope helps us all see how those with the least among us will fare the worst from the consequences of climate change. I very much appreciate that the Republican leadership has invited the pope to address Congress. I hope they listen to what he has to say. Denying the science related to climate change is no longer acceptable.”
The Pope’s encyclical embraced the science behind climate change, ” A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the Earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.”
The fact that the Pope has embraced science has placed him in a more forward thinking and realistic position than science denying Republicans. It also demonstrates how far towards the fringe one of the two political parties in the US has gone.
Francis took on climate change deniers, “Many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change.”
Pope Francis stated that those who hide their climate change denial behind scripture are misinterpreting the Bible, “We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judaeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.”
The Pope has firmly aligned himself with those who believe that climate change is real and that humanity must act. The Pope echoed a message similar to what President Obama, Bernie Sanders, and others have been saying in the United States. Republicans in this country are holding back global progress on climate change to enrich their corporate donors.
Francis’ encyclical makes it clear that climate change deniers can no longer hide behind their warped version of The Bible. The most powerful religious leader in the world has taken a stand, and he and Bernie Sanders share the same position on protecting our planet.