Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar Is Boycotting Pope Francis Over Climate Change

September 21st 2015

Alex Mierjeski

Pope Francis will be in the U.S. next week, making stops on his first national tour.

His first visit is in New York City, then Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. as the Roman Catholic Church leader plans to arrive at the White House, and give the first papal address to Congress—incidentally one of just a handful of speeches the pope will give in English on his trip.

But a prominent focus of the pope's trip is causing commotion in certain circles—even for some high-profile Catholics. One U.S. Representative, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), announced he would boycott the historic Congressional address because of the church leader's stance on climate change.

"It is difficult to convey the excitement I first felt when it was revealed that His Holiness Pope Francis was invited to Washington, D.C. to address the world from the floor of the House of Representatives," Gosar wrote in an editorial on Townhall.com.

Gosar's mood changed, he wrote, when he learned about the pope's climate change agenda. "More troubling is the fact that this climate change talk has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into 'climate justice' and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies. If the pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line."

"But when the pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one," Gosar wrote.

The Arizona Republican wrote of his disappointment when he learned that the pope would not address issues such as religious freedom intolerance, Islamic extremism, or immorality of "intentionally planned genocide of unborn children by Planned Parenthood and society," explaining that the climate "has been changing since first created in Genesis." The promotion of "questionable science as Catholic dogma," Gosar wrote, "it ridiculous."

Gosar has gone on record before with anti-climate change beliefs, saying in 2012 that warming of the planet "is likely not in our control in any event. Historical records clearly demonstrate vast temperature swings long before Man arrived, from temperate zones in Alaska to ice ages in New York," ThinkProgress noted. Gosar has also been a critic of the Obama Administration's climate change regulations, and is behind an effort to impeach Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy.

Although the pope's recent encyclical on climate change drew widespread attention to his perspective, some have pointed to a deeper history of the church's involvement in environmental causes. Other prominent Catholics disagreed with Gosar's plan to boycott Thursday's visit, including James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author, as NPR highlighted.

Politico noted Friday that other prominent Republicans averse to the idea of climate change activism, including the Environmental and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe, and Marco Rubio, were planning to attend the speech. Gosar's office reportedly told the site, without naming names, that other Republicans had expressed interest in joining the Rep. in his boycott.