Excerpt: "Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush joined forces with the coal industry and climate deniers in a gathering conservative backlash against the pope, lashing out against a leaked draft of the spiritual leader's letter on climate change."
Jeb Bush speaks at the American Legislative Exchange Council's 40th annual meeting in Chicago, August 2013. (photo: M.Spencer Green/AP)
Jeb Bush Lectures Pope Francis on Climate Change
By Suzanne Goldenberg and Sabrina Siddiqui, Guardian UK
18 June 15
'I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope'. Coal industry lobbyist says pope should promote fossil fuels to help poor.
epublican presidential contender Jeb Bush joined forces with the coal industry and climate deniers in a gathering conservative backlash against the pope, lashing out against a leaked draft of the spiritual leader's letter on climate change.
In his first official day on the presidential campaign trail, Bush, who is Catholic, told a town hall event in New Hampshire that Pope Francis should steer clear of global affairs.
The energy industry also turned on the pope, with the lobbyist for one of America's biggest coalmining companies sending out an email blast on Tuesday, rebuking the church leader for failing to promote fossil fuels as a solution to global poverty.
Bush converted to Catholicism when he got married 20 years ago, and regularly cited church teachings when he was Florida governor – even enacting a law to introduce anti-abortion "Choose Life" car license plates.
But when it comes to climate change, Bush said he would not be guided by the church.
"I hope I'm not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope," the former Florida governor said. "I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm."
With those remarks, Bush joined fellow Republicans, the fossil fuel industry, and the climate deniers of the Heartland Institute in trying to discredit the Pope's much-anticipated message on poverty and climate change – even before its release.
At least five of the Republican presidential contenders are Catholic. Two so far – Bush and Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and devout Catholic – have come out against the pope on climate change.
According to the leaked version, the pope will say climate change is real and caused by humans, and that fossil fuels must be phased out of the global economy. He will call on leaders to reach a global deal to fight climate change and make sure to protect the world's poor as they do so.
The Vatican has warned there could be changes ahead of the official release of his encyclical on Thursday – but the response from conservatives has been ferocious.
On Tuesday, Tom Altmeyer, a lobbyist for Arch Coal, the second-biggest coalmining company, sent out an email blast of the talking points with the subject line reading: "Unfortunately, the Pope's Encyclical, to be officiallt released on 6.18. does not apperar to address the tragedy of global energy poverty - see realities below [sic]".
In the email, Altmeyer argued the pope should be promoting fossil fuels if he really cared about social justice.
"Industry, policymakers and social leaders – like Pope Francis – must work together to support policies that bring about new advances in fossil energy technologies so we can strike a balance between global economic needs and climate concerns," the email said.
The email was obtained by Greenpeace and made available to the Guardian.
Bush earlier this month was the sole Republican presidential candidate invited to speak at a $7,500 golfing and fly fishing retreat hosted by coal companies, including Arch.
But Bush's rejection of the pope's authority to speak out as a spiritual leader on a global issue such as climate change was in line with comments from other conservatives and fellow Catholics, who claim to followchurch teachings.
Santorum told a Philadelphia radio station earlier this month: "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 focusing on what we're good at, which is theology and morality."
Three other Catholic Republican hopefuls: Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio, have yet to speak out on the encyclical.
Other Republicans have come forward, however, including the Oklahoma senator James Inhofe, who bluntly told reporters that Francis was out of line – "The pope ought to stay with his job" – at a conference of the climate change-denying Heartland Institute.
Most Republicans in Congress deny the existence of manmade climate change and oppose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Only one of the nearly 20 Republicans running for president acknowledges the danger of climate change: Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator, who is considered a long shot.
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