The Kochs Can’t Buy The Pope

Bill Scher

Pope Francis is preparing to deliver a major “encyclical,” or address to clergy, that declares preventing a climate crisis to be a moral imperative. This will be a landmark moment: the marriage of faith and science by one of the world’s most influential religious leaders, bolstering international talks to forge a global agreement by the end of the year.

Obviously, the man must be stopped.

At least that’s what the climate science deniers at the Koch Brothers-funded Heartland Institute think. Failing to recognize that the jig is up, Heartland representatives flew to the Vatican this week, and infiltrated a press conference tied to the church’s climate summit that is a precursor to the encyclical.

The Heartland boys were sad when their disruptive and disingenuous questioning was ignored. “Papal heavies shut down an awkward question at a Vatican press conference,” one whined afterwards. Another Heartland rep tried scolding the Pope, saying “The Pope has great moral authority but he’s not an authority on climate science.”

Maybe not. But a moral authority knows that lying is immoral, which is what Heartland and their fellow science deniers do for a living. Also immoral is standing idly by while your planet is being destroyed. Pope Francis, thankfully, is embarking on an act of moral leadership. And he can’t be bought with Koch dollars.

Conservatives have long tried to drive a wedge between religion and science. As Ann Coulter once wrote: “The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man’s dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet – it’s yours. That’s our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars – that’s the Biblical view.” This was not a joke.

The notion that God gave us the Earth to “rape” it is about to be definitely debunked.

After the Pope delivers the encyclical, he will later address the U.S. Congress – because Speaker John Boehner gave out one invite too many – and Republican Catholics will be forced to choose between their fossil fuel donors and their faith leader.

The Kochs can’t buy the Pope, but presumably they have some members of Congress on retainer. Still, perhaps the Pope can turn at least one Republican away from his or her oil and coal patrons. If so, we may soon witness a true miracle on Earth.

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