Cardinal Donald Wuerl said on Sunday that Pope Francis provides a moral element to the debate over climate change.
“That’s what the church brings, that’s what he brings to this discussion,” Wuerl told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”
“We have to look at this through the moral dimension of, ‘How does this affect everyone on the planet?' " asked Wuerl, the archbishop of the Catholic Church’s Washington, D.C. diocese.
Wuerl was commenting on the release of Pope Francis’s encyclical on climate change and its environmental impact last week.
Francis said in the letter to the entire Catholic Church on Thursday that humanity has a direct role in causing climate change.
“What we get is the moral frame of reference for how we arrive at those positions,” Wuerl said of the pope’s new encyclical.
“I think that’s the richness to his contribution to all of this,” he added.
Multiple GOP presidential candidates have since criticized Francis for entering the climate change debate.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) both said that the pope overstepped his political authority last week.
Wuerl said on Sunday that their response is proof democracy works.
“This is one of the great blessings of America,” he said of freedom of speech. “We are all allowed to speak our minds.”
Wuerl urged climate change skeptics on Sunday to remember that Francis’s encyclical proposes a dialogue on climate change rather than a definitive statement.
“He’s not indicating what is the cause of every single disaster,” Wuerl said of Francis.
“He’s saying – ‘Why don’t we all discuss this?' ” he asked. “Why don’t we all come to the table?”
“Anytime you address a worldwide problem, it is going to take a while to resolve.”