House Republican Plans to Boycott Pope Francis’s Speech Over Climate Change

Rep. Paul Gosar says the pope is acting “like a leftist politician,” and he wants no part.

Pope Francis.
Franco Origlia AFP/Getty
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Clare Foran
Sept. 18, 2015, 9:18 a.m.

Paul Gos­ar is not pleased with Pope Fran­cis—and he’s ready to skip next week’s his­tor­ic speech as a res­ult.

In an op-ed on the con­ser­vat­ive site Town­hall.com, the Ari­zona Re­pub­lic­an ap­pears very much con­cerned that Fran­cis will urge ac­tion to fight cli­mate change when he be­comes the first pope to speak dir­ectly to a joint ses­sion of Con­gress. The pontiff is an out­spoken ad­voc­ate of ac­tion to com­bat man-made cli­mate change, a stand that does not sit well with Gos­ar, a skep­tic of the sci­entif­ic con­sensus that hu­man activ­ity is the primary driver of dan­ger­ous glob­al warm­ing.

“At this pivotal mo­ment in world his­tory, His Holi­ness, Pope Fran­cis, is in­tend­ing to spend the ma­jor­ity of his time on one of the world’s greatest stages fo­cus­ing on cli­mate change,” Gos­ar writes, de­clar­ing: “If the Pope plans to spend the ma­jor­ity of his time ad­voc­at­ing for flawed cli­mate-change policies, then I will not at­tend.”

Gos­ar’s of­fice con­firmed that the con­gress­man plans to boy­cott the speech out of con­cern that the pope will be talk­ing ex­tens­ively about cli­mate change. Pope Fran­cis’s speech will take place be­fore a joint-ses­sion of the House and Sen­ate on Septem­ber 24th. 

The House Re­pub­lic­an ar­gues that if Fran­cis wants to ad­voc­ate for the en­vir­on­ment, he should do so in his own free time and not on while on the clock for the Cath­ol­ic Church.

“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 writes, adding: “When the pope chooses to act like a left­ist politi­cian, then he can ex­pect to be treated like one.”

What would Gos­ar rather hear Fran­cis talk about? The con­gress­man ap­pears to have con­sidered that ques­tion at length, of­fer­ing up a lengthy list of top­ics that he thinks would be far more suit­able for Fran­cis to stick to.

“If the pope stuck to stand­ard Chris­ti­an theo­logy, I would be the first in line. If the pope spoke out with mor­al au­thor­ity against vi­ol­ent Is­lam, I would be there cheer­ing him on. If the pope urged the West­ern na­tions to res­cue per­se­cuted Chris­ti­ans in the Middle East, I would back him whole­heartedly,” Gos­ar writes.

Gos­ar is also an ar­dent op­pon­ent of Pres­id­ent Obama’s policy agenda aimed at tack­ling the threat of cli­mate change. To top it all off, Gos­ar re­cently vowed that he would at­tempt to im­peach En­vir­on­ment­al Pro­tec­tion Agency Ad­min­is­trat­or Gina Mc­Carthy.

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