Rush Limbaugh vs. Pope Francis


Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk radio host

Rush Limbaugh is at it again.  First he accused Pope Francis of being a Marxist and this time accusing the Pope of forcing his opinions about global warming on other people.  Apparently a caller clarified to Rush that the Pope did state Catholics do not have to agree with him, but Rush was convinced that the Pope did say that Catholics (and others) have to agree with him.

The fact of the matter is the caller is correct and they even gave a paragraph number for Rush to look it up himself.  Apparently he did not actually read the encyclical and only knows what the media reported.  In the encyclical, paragraph 188 as the caller specified, the Pope had this to say.

“There are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus. Here I would state once more that the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics. But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good.”

I am one of those Catholics who does not agree with the Holy Father on global warming.  I have not believed in this theory since I was 11.  What I had been told about global warming contradicted the climate experiences I had and some freakish warm fronts do not constitute for global warming.  Regardless if you agree or disagree with him on global warming however, he does mention things we should take to heart such as “the depletion of natural reserves, deforestation, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works” (no. 51) or that “the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion” (no. 120).

I am sure conservatives would be happy to read what he said in the next paragraph: “Politics must not be subject to the economy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy” (no. 189).  But I don’t think Rush read that.  Looking at things merely from a political point of view blinds us from seeing the facts; in other words, if we think of issues merely in a Democratic vs. Republican point of view and not a view about what can be changed, then we risk creating a bigger problem if not at least ineffectively dealing with the problem.  It seems not only are there those who want to silence global warming skeptics, but on the other side there are some who want to silence global warming believers.  We should be open to theories of science and that is why the Pope mentioned that it is not the Church’s place to dogmatize scientific theories because they cause schism in the Church over something that is not in the Church’s power to define as dogma since it is not directly an issue of spirituality, faith and morals.

The Baltimore Catechism, a Catholic document approved by the Holy See, states the following.

“The Pope is not infallible in everything he says and does, because the Holy Ghost was not promised to make him infallible in everything, but only in matters of faith and morals for the whole Church. Nevertheless, the Pope’s opinion on any subject deserves our greatest respect on account of his learning, experience and dignity.” (A. 532)

It also states that the Pope “must indicate by certain words, such as, we define, we proclaim, etc., that he intends to speak infallibly” (A. 531.3).  The Pope did not say that which only further proves this is not Church dogma in addition to the fact that global warming is a matter of scientific theory, not faith or morals, and to be infallible he has to “speak on a subject of faith or morals” (ibid, 1).  As a scientific theory it is not grounded in Scripture or Tradition.  Furthermore the Pope “must speak as the Vicar of Christ and to the whole Church”, but he does not as he not only speaks his opinion on a scientific theory not on faith and morals but he also admits it is his opinion and opens the Church for debate on the subject which brings me back to his exhortation for “an honest and open debate” on the subject of global warming.  I am sure Rush doesn’t believe the Pope speaks for the whole Church when he speaks of global warming, but he hasn’t exactly read the Pope’s own statements about open discussion on the topic.  He says he has defended the Church numerous times, but that doesn’t mean he is correct on Pope Francis and that alone does not save him.  My advice is to be fully integrated into the Church so that he may participate in the sacramental life.


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