Pope Francis’ closest adviser castigated conservative climate change skeptics in the United States Tuesday, blaming capitalism for their views.
Speaking with journalists, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga criticized certain “movements” in the United States that have preemptively come out in opposition to Francis’s planned encyclical on climate change.
Rodríguez’s comments came at the beginning of the annual meeting of Caritas Internationalis, an association of Catholic charitable groups.
He said many individuals both inside and outside the Catholic Church are awaiting Francis’s encyclical “with hope,” and especially watching how it might impact the United Nations’s December meeting that seeks to reach an agreement on an international climate change pact.
That is Francis’s top stated goal for the encyclical, to encourage Catholics to fight climate change and influence the U.N.’s process.
But Rodríguez singled out the United States as the source of premature criticism, the Globe reported.
“I have already heard criticism over the encyclical,” Rodríguez said of the United States, adding that it is “absurd” to be so negative about an encyclical that no one in the public has seen.
The Heartland Institute, funded in part by the billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, has taken the lead on countering Francis’s encyclical.
The right wing group sent climate change deniers to the Vatican last month to try to convince top Catholic officials that human activity is not harming the planet, and there is no need for Francis’s action.