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Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 11, 2017

On the flight back to Rome from Cartagena on Sept. 10, Pope Francis addressed two questions that are much discussed in the United States today: the situation of the 800,000 Dreamers whose could face deportation and the moral responsibility of governments that deny climate change.

Responding to a question about the negative effects of the suspension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in the United States, Pope Francis said that since the president presents himself as pro-life, then he should also be pro-family and not do anything that would be detrimental to the family.

The pope also addressed questions about climate change, saying that those who deny its reality should listen to scientists, who “speak very clearly.” He insisted that people at every level have to take responsibility to care for the environment, since “it’s true that if we don’t turn back we will go down.”

Speaking to reporters shortly after take-off, Francis had a dark mark around his left eye from an accident in the popemobile in Cartagena. He sought to play down the injury saying, “I was leaning down to greet children and then I banged my head.… I now have a puffed eye!” Despite a physically grueling five days visit to Colombia, Francis was in good spirits fielding questions in what he calls “the lion’s den.”

Recalling that whenever Francis meets young people anywhere in the world, he always tells them “don’t let them rob you of hope, don’t let them rob you of your future,” a reporter asked Pope Francis: “Don’t you think that with the abolition of [DACA], young people will lose their joy, their hope, their future?”

While acknowledging that he had not been able to study the DACA decision in detail, Francis spoke about the challenges facing young immigrants more generally, saying that “to take away young people from their families is not something that bears fruit, neither for the young people nor for their families.” Referring to the current negotiations over a legislative solution, the pope expressed “hope that it can be re-thought a little.”

If he is a good pro-life [man] then he will understand that the family is the cradle of life, and that it must be defended as a unit.

Then, in a highly significant remark, Pope Francis referred to President Donald J. Trump, saying, “I have heard it said that the president of the United States presents himself as a man who is pro-life, and if he is a good pro-life [man] then he will understand that the family is the cradle of life, and that it must be defended as a unit.”

Francis added that he was very concerned about the negative effects on young people left without hope and separated from their roots, including the possibility of drug addiction and suicide. He emphasized that “the relationship to their roots are very important for the young”, and observed that “the young are uprooted today, they ask for help, they want to find again their roots, and that is why I insist very much on the dialogue between the young and the elderly.” He concluded: “young people today need to find again their roots, and whatever goes against the roots takes away their hopes.” Noting that he did not want to express himself on an issue he had not studied closely, he repeated his intention to “study it well.”

Francis also responded to a question about the moral responsibility of governments that deny climate change, an issue that is very much on the radar given President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris accords on climate change.

Noting that the extensive damage from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, potentially connected to the warming of the oceans, a reporter asked the pope about the moral responsibility of “politicians who refuse to collaborate with other nations to control emissions” because they deny human responsibility for climate change.

The one who denies [climate change] should go to the scientists, and ask them. They speak very clearly. Scientists are precise.”

Pope Francis rejected climate change denial as strongly as he did in his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” saying that “the one who denies this should go to the scientists, and ask them. They speak very clearly. Scientists are precise.”

He recalled recent news reports about the disappearance of ice in the Arctic, and referred to recent studies “that said we have only three years to turn back, otherwise the consequences will be terrible. I don’t know if we have three years or not, but it’s true that if we don’t turn back we will go down.”

Noting that “the scientists say clearly what are the roads to follow,” Francis emphasized that “all of us have a responsibility…and I believe we must take it seriously.”

Addressing the moral responsibility of politicians who deny climate change, Francis said “if one thinks it is not so true, then let that person go and ask the scientists. They are most clear. Theirs is not an airy-fairy opinion, they are most clear. Then let the person decide, and history will judge the decisions.”

Another journalist asked Francis why he thought it took “so long for governments to gain consciousness on this question, while in other areas, like on the question of arms, they can decide quickly?”

There’s a phrase in the Old Testament, I think in one of the psalms, where it says man is stupid; he’s stubborn and does not see.

Pope Francis began his response by noting “there’s a phrase in the Old Testament, I think in one of the psalms, where it says man is stupid; he’s stubborn and does not see.” He added that attachment to money “has effects on creation, and also on so many other questions, like that of arms. There are many contradictions linked to money.”

Francis recalled a visit earlier in the day to a poor neighborhood in Cartagena and where there’s also “the tourist section, luxurious, without any moral measure. But those who go there, they don’t take note, nor do the socio-political analysts.” Francis concluded, “man is stupid, and when he doesn’t want to see, he won’t see, he only looks at one side.”

Pope Francis also fielded several other questions, including one on Venezuela, saying that the UN should act on the humanitarian crisis there. He also addressed questions about his visit to Colombia and how he hopes the peace process will develop and the Italian response to the migrant question.

Editor’s note: the quotes in this article are a working translation by the author in advance of an official transcript of the press conference.

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Douglas Fang
6 years 7 months ago

Thank you, dear Pope Francis, for continuing to speak in the most authentic way the pressing issues of today’s world, especially in the area of climate change.

It is no wonder that the Pope consistently receives the highest mark in many global surveys for being the rallying cry for morality, for consciousness, for goodness in a world distorted by cruelty, misinformation, and greed. Yes, the Pope is the brightest beacon of hope in the dark world today. He is the living proof of what Jesus promised: “...Upon this rock, I’ll build my Church...”.

After his firsthand experience with Irma, this is what Richard Branson, the freewheeling billionaire, has to say “Man-made climate change is contributing to increasingly strong hurricanes causing unprecedented damage. The whole world should be scrambling to get on top of the climate change issue before it is too late for this generation, let alone the generations to come.”

Even with 97.1 percent of scientific studies support the view that climate change is caused by humans (again, this flies in the face of the continuing nonsense, absurd, and bogus claim that the Pope’s point of view about climate change is his personal opinion!!! – it is the same exact psychological defect or blindness that impacts the majority of Trump’s supporters to make them hang on the belief that Obama is not American born!!!), it has still left room for climate-change deniers to claim that maybe the 2.9 percent are right.
However, a study has already looked at the 3 percent of studies denying climate change is man-made and has found that EVERY SINGLE one of them was FLAWED! One of its authors, atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, has taken to her Facebook to slam climate change deniers in a strongly-worded viral post.

Even China, one of the biggest car markets in the world, is joining the UK, and France to phase out fossil fuel cars.

John Walton
6 years 7 months ago

Who denies climate change? It is now proposed with scientific evidence that the "Medieval warming" which turned the Loire valley into the breadbasket of Europe was warmer than present day France. That's how Chartres got built (and rebuilt).

Scott Walter
6 years 7 months ago

How sad and pathetic that a Jesuit magazine would allow the use of "refutes" to describe what the pope did. He may be right. He may be wrong. He certainly "disagreed with" or "criticized" persons who are skeptical that we face catastrophic man-made global warming. But refute those persons he certainly did not. Shouldn't we aim to be more "precise"?

William Bannon
6 years 7 months ago

Thank you....good.

Joseph Kash
6 years 7 months ago

In the words of the Holy Father, "Who am I to judge".

Douglas Fang
6 years 7 months ago

It seems that the arguments of the climate deniers are now close to the level of the flat earth/young earth believers, meaning a belief that is purely imaginative and devoid of any reality.

“He may be right, he may be wrong” – what kind of nonsense argument is this? If he is wrong, then by trying to protect the environment, we can make the world a cleaner, and healthier place to live, even with some great cost. If he is right, then by doing nothing or worse, we are condemning future generations to live in an ecological wasteland with unimaginable hardship and suffering. “I don’t know if we have three years or not, but it’s true that if we don’t turn back we will go down”

“Climate change always happens – i.e. Medieval Warm Period” – against, this is one of the most often cited arguments of the climate change deniers and it has been thoroughly “refuted” in many articles that I don’t bother repeating it here. Just google and you can find it.

“Who am I to judge?” “…let that person go and ask the scientists. They are most clear. Theirs is not an airy-fairy opinion, they are most clear. Then let the person decide, and history will judge the decisions…” Of course, and God will be the final judge – if people still believe in God. If not, all bets are off… Atlas Shrugged…

James Haraldson
6 years 7 months ago

Maybe you should apply enough non-hysterical and honest reasoning before applying venomous characterizations of thoughtful people. There never has been a time in human history when there was a prevailing belief that the earth was flat.
If Pope Francis is basing his judgment blindly on the moral infallibility of scientists, then he is, being charitable, demonstrating a profound ignorance of history while not even applying any common sense Christian wisdom that informs us that everyone is subject to the sins of pride.
The very greenhouse theory itself is unproven as the heat trapping effects of the atmosphere, if it exists, would also deflect solar radiation proportionately unless we are in a cycle of a “hotter sun” which occurs in cycles over time, which happens to be the case currently.
Nonetheless, a pope lacking enough moral wisdom to even question self-promoting “scientists” with a long track record of promoting population control methods including compulsory abortions, and now hysterically promoting a theory to justify such exterminations, should be regarded with an appropriate level of sadness, not joy.

William Bannon
6 years 7 months ago

I hope Trump tweets back...." he presents himself as pro life...has he done a thing to censure Catholic pro choice pols...did his predecessors?"

Tim O'Leary
6 years 7 months ago

I think the psalm the Holy Father is quoting is 92. Here is Psalm 92:5-9:

"How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! 
The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this:  
that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O Lord, for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered."

Somehow, I doubt the evildoers described mean those opposing the anti-natalist scientists, many of whom might be pro-abortion and generally anti-human.

Here also is what the scientists say about hurricane frequency and climate change (from NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - https://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/global-warming-and-hurricanes/) "It is premature to conclude that human activities–and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming–have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity."

While this season is not over, the busiest years for major hurricanes were 8 in 1950, 7 in 2005, 6 in 1999, 1996, 1964, 1921, 1955, 1926. So, it might be premature to make a causal connection between Harvey and Irma, at least if one wants to be scientifically precise. I consider myself a pragmatic environmentalist, but I do not support anti-people laws or penalizing poor people for marginal gains in CO output. Stewardship and sustainability should require prudent weighing of trade-offs, not alarmism and name calling. Bjørn Lomborg, President of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, seems to have got the balance most right, to my read.

I do think the preponderance of data suggests CO-related warming, and support going solar if it is affordable (I drive a green car) and fracking (7% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the US from 2005 to 2014. vs. large increases in China and India). But, I think it important to read deep into the data and not accept the fake news of "97% scientists believe", the UN hype or the failed predictions of Al Gore, et all.

As to DACA, this is one issue where Trump is right in the middle of the road and his critics are way too prejudiced to listen up. He will sign a bill that approves a solution for young people brought to the US, once the Congress sends him one - they are the legislative branch and Trump has signaled he will sign such a bill. The Democrats never proposed such a bill when they were in charge. I hope the Republicans get it done.

JR Cosgrove
6 years 7 months ago

Sorry to see that my comment was taken down. I still believe what I said was accurate. And is easily defensible.

Very few deny climate change takes place. But given that, there are numerous scientist that question the sources of the change, the effect it will have and what can be done to offset these changes. To use the term "deny/denier" is then a misnomer and should not be used.

To provide an example of what is unknown. There is no agreement on the sensitivity of temperature to co2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Without this knowledge no model of temperature change based on co2 emissions is possible.

Then there is the discussion of how money should be spent to affect anything.

None of this gets discussed on America the magazine. One editor pointed to a study showing that 97% of scientists agree on global warming but is that a valid study or a fake research study? My understanding is that it is bogus. Why not debate that?

Douglas Fang
6 years 7 months ago

It seems to me that the climate change deniers still desperately hang on to some stale and absurd arguments:

- “Man-made climate change is an opinion”. This is not an opinion, as the Pope said very clear “(It)…is not an airy-fairy opinion”. There is a difference between opinion and fact. The earth is not flat is a fact. Obama is American born is a fact. Man-made climate change is a rational and precise conclusion of a long and massive on going data collection and data crunching with increasing level of sophistication. Do you know that we can now detect the presence of a submarine by measuring the infinitesimal change in the gravitational field of the ocean? Similarly, the gravitational wave created after the big bang, the existence of planets around far away stars, etc. All require the level of measurement impossible just a few years ago. I wholehearted agree with what the Pope, who was trained as a chemist himself, said in the interview “…the one who denies this should go to the scientists and ask them. They speak very clearly. Scientists are precise…”

- “97% of scientists agree on global warming is a bogus study”. This is an absolute bogus and distorted statement. It shows that either the author does not have any clue about the topic or intentionally mislead the readers. The correct statement is as follows “97.1 percent of scientific studies support the view that climate change is caused by humans”. This is English, folk!

I don’t want to be an alarmist but the danger is real and growing. As a matter of fact, the global warming is accelerating and already surpassed the prediction. The rapid thaw of the permafrost near the north pole, the acidification of the ocean, the frequency of “100-years” events, etc. “…They have eyes but they cannot see…”

May God have mercy on us all!

Paul Sarbaugh
6 years 7 months ago

Peter Watson in his 2012 book The Great Divide: History and Human Nature in the Old World and the New has in depth discussions of the climate and weather in North and South America. He shows this pattern of destruction goes way back. In fact, only now can societies exist due to technological advances but even that is not sufficient.
Climate change exists but this pattern of catastrophe in the Americas is rooted in history.

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