Santorum: Pope Francis should stay out of climate change debate

Santorum: Pope Francis should stay out of climate change debate
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Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is criticizing Pope Francis for his plan to weigh in on climate change, saying it’s not an appropriate action for the Catholic Church.

Santorum, a devout Roman Catholic who has made social conservatism a top focus of his political career, told Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano that he loves Francis and is “a huge fan of his.”

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But the former Pennsylvania senator said he was troubled by the news that the pope is planning this month to issue an encyclical on climate change urging the world’s Catholics to take up the issue as a moral cause.

“The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focus on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality,” Santorum said Monday. “And I think when we get involved with political and controversial scientific theories, then I think the church is probably not as forceful and credible.”

The former Pennsylvania senator compared the church’s involvement in climate change to previous efforts on agricultural policy.

Santorum said it is “really outside the scope of what the church’s main message is, that we’re better off sticking to things that are really the core teachings of the church as opposed to getting involved with every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time.”

Even before the encyclical, Francis has made climate change a top issue of his.

He declared in January that climate change is mostly man-made, saying “it is man who continuously slaps down nature.”

Francis has put the climate fight in moral terms, arguing that the Catholic Church’s longstanding priority of protecting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable obligates it to take action on climate.