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Pope Francis Challenges Republicans

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Obviously, Pope Francis doesn't agree. The Washington Post aptly summarized the Pope's 192 page encyclical:

1. Climate change has grave implications.

2. Rich countries are destroying poor ones and the earth is getting warmer. "The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world."

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3. Christians have misinterpreted scripture and "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."

4. Access to safe drinkable water "is a basic and universal human right."

5. Technocratic domination leads to the destruction of nature and the exploitation of people, "by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion."

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6. Population control does not address the problems of the poor.

7. Gender differences matter.

8. The international community has not acted enough.

9. Individuals must act.

10. "What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?"

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Towards the end of his encyclical, Pope Francis addresses political action (as "social love"): "Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion". Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and commitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also "macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones". Social love is the key to authentic development: "In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life -- political, economic and cultural -- must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity". In this framework, along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a "culture of care" which permeates all of society." [emphasis added]

Obviously, Pope Francis does not separate politics from Christian morality.

Nonetheless, it's hard to find any Republican who agrees with Pope Francis about the dangers of global climate change. Among all Republican presidential candidates only South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham believes climate change is real and wants to do something about it. Senator Marco Rubio doesn't believe humans are causing climate change. Governor Scott Walker's exact position on climate change is unclear but as Wisconsin Governor "he has gone after every single piece of climate protection." Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush isn't sure about climate change: "I'm not a scientist."

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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.

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