Will climate change split the Church?

What about issues that irk conservatives? Namely, human responsibility. Can we expect Francis to stress the issue of manmade climate change or will he shy away from the issue?

Up until a few weeks ago, I was skeptical that he’d hit hard on anthropogenic climate change. After several Vatican statements [by Cardinal Peter Turkson and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences], I’m willing to say that I think he will push hard on it! Not only do I now think he’ll affirm scientific consensus: I think he’ll mince no words in stipulating how “super-developed,” industrialized countries like the U.S. bear a lion’s share of the responsibility for anthropogenic climate change and thus—crucially—for its remediation. He’s not going to let anyone off the hook, nor is he going to get sucked in to U.S.-style partisan antics. He’s got bigger scope and is not (a) servant to election cycles, fiscal quarters, or industry lobbies.

Bravo il Papa, but are there any risks for Francis in engaging this particular issue in this way? Many media commentators worry about Francis’s relationship with the political and religious right.

I don’t think Francis cares very much what most American pundits and lobbyists think. You know, all the rhetoric about whether he’ll “break the Church,” or is somehow under the misguided spell of Al Gore … is a form of self-justifying navel gazing. It universalizes a very particular, biased American vantage point; and in so doing, it misses the moral point about planetary interdependence across time and space. Catholic also means “catholic,” as in “everyone,” not just “white American male pundits.”

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