Conservative Media vs. The Pope: The Worst Reactions To Pope Francis' Climate Change Encyclical

Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change reveals his belief that there is a moral obligation to act swiftly on climate change, which disproportionately harms the world's poor. But conservative media are relentlessly attacking the pope over the encyclical, calling it “insipid” and “blasphemous,” and fearmongering that the Catholic leader is a “Marxist” pushing for “a new world order,” among other things.

Pope Francis Issues Encyclical On Climate Change

Encyclical Affirms Scientific Consensus And Calls For Action On Climate ChangePope Francis has issued an encyclical on climate change that cites the scientific consensus that human activities are driving global warming and calls for reduced fossil fuel use in order to help the world's poor. Based on a version of the encyclical that was leaked earlier in the week and closely matched the final version, Reuters reported that the encyclical shows that the pope “backs scientists who say global warming is mostly man-made and that developed countries have a particular responsibility to stem a trend that will hurt the poor the most”:

The world could see the destruction of entire ecosystems this century without urgent action on climate change, Pope Francis says in a draft of his keenly awaited encyclical on the environment.

In the Italian version of the 192-page document, posted on Monday by the weekly magazine l'Espresso, the pope again backs scientists who say global warming is mostly man-made and that developed countries have a particular responsibility to stem a trend that will hurt the poor the most.


By making environmental protection a moral imperative, Francis' intervention could spur the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to lobby policymakers on ecology issues.


The pope calls for a reduction in carbon emissions, an increase in policies that favor renewable energy and warns of the long-term effects of continuing to use fossil fuels as the main source of global energy. 

The New York Times reported on June 18 that the leaked version of the encyclical “almost exactly matched the final document.” As USA Today has noted, an encyclical, one of the highest forms of communication by the pope, is a letter to bishops intended to clarify, amplify, condemn, or promote an aspect of Catholic doctrine. The official document was released on June 18. [Reuters, 6/16/15; The New York Times, 6/18/15USA Today6/17/15]

Right-Wing Media Relentlessly Attacking The Encyclical And The Pope Himself

Rush Limbaugh: Encyclical “Seems To Confirm” That Pope Francis Is A “Marxist.” On the June 16 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh said that the encyclical “seems to confirm” that Pope Francis is a “Marxist,” and suggested that the scientific studies cited in the encyclical are “bought and paid for.” He also called the encyclical “The Pope's Leaked Marxist Climate Rant” on his website. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show6/16/15]

Limbaugh: Pope Supports Leaving “Everybody ... Living Equally In Misery.” On his June 17 show, Limbaugh continued to criticize the pope, claiming that he is aligning himself with those on the left who want to leave “everybody ... living equally in misery,” and that the encyclical suggests that rich countries “need to keep giving” money to the poor “until our rich are no longer rich.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show6/17/15]

Michael Savage: Pope Sounds Like He Is “Directing Mankind To Worship The Antichrist ” And Is A “Danger To The World.” Conservative radio host Michael Savage declared on the June 16 edition of his show: “The pope is a danger to the world.” He continued by calling the Pope a “great deceiver,” “stealth Marxist,” and “eco-wolf in pope's clothing,” and comparing him to the false prophet in the book of Revelation “directing mankind to worship the Antichrist.” Savage concluded that “we are living in global tyranny right now”:

The Pope is a Marxist. I stand by those words. He is a wolf in pope's clothing, he is an eco-wolf in pope's clothing. He is a stealth Marxist in religious garb.


He sounds like the false prophet in revelation ... directing mankind to worship the Antichrist .


We are living in global tyranny right now. We are living in global tyranny where the Big Lie is told over and over again. [The Savage Nation6/16/15, via RightWingWatch]

WSJ Columnist Peggy Noonan Warned The Vatican Might Be Making A “Mistake” By Trying To Prevent Another Galileo Incident. In her column for The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan posited that the Vatican is acting on climate change because it “fears being tagged as antiscience and antifact,” but that the church might be making a “mistake” by acting on unsettled science:

Also the European elite is all in on climate change and the Vatican is in Europe. The Church fears being tagged as antiscience and antifact.

But is the science of climate change settled? And can a church that made a mistake with Galileo 400 years ago make another mistake by trying desperately not to repeat the earlier one? [The Wall Street Journal6/12/15]

Fox News' Greg Gutfleld Calls Pope “Marxist,” Says He “Could Be On Occupy Wall Street.” On the June 16 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld brought up the pope's supposed “Marxist background” and said: “The most dangerous person on the planet is someone who is seeking strange new respect from their adversaries, and that is what the pope is doing ... He wants to be a modern pope. All he needs is dreadlocks and a dog with a bandana and he could be on Occupy Wall Street”:

Fox Business' Lou Dobbs: Pope Is “Talking About A New World Order.” On the June 16 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs said that the climate change issue is “ideological,” “absolutely political” and “not the stuff of which I would expect the pope to involved in.” Dobbs went on to claim the pope is “talking about a new world order, he's talking about a new global organization.” [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight6/16/15]

Fox Contributor Andrew Napolitano: Pope Wants To “Shame People Into Distributing Wealth Based on “Alleged” Global Warming. Judge Andrew Napolitano, a frequent contributor for Fox News, criticized the pope in a June 16 interview on the St. Louis-based radio station FM News Talk 97.1. Napolitano claimed that the pope wants to use the “bully pulpit of the papacy” to “shame people into distributing wealth in such a manner so as to help the poor, and one of the ways he's trying to do that is by encouraging governments to get involved in restricting behavior that allegedly causes something allegedly called global warming.” [97.1 FM News Talk, 6/16/15

Dobbs And Napolitano Speculated That Pope Wants A “Super Government” To Ensure “His Views Are Institutionalized.” On the June 17 edition of his show, Dobbs invited Napolitano to fearmonger over the pope's encyclical. Dobbs said the “most troubling aspect” of what the pope is doing is “talk[ing] about a new global authority to assure that his views are institutionalized.” Napolitano agreed, adding his own speculation that Pope Francis could be “talking about some super government”: 

DOBBS:  [T]o talk about a new global authority to assure that his views are institutionalized, and those -- this is the most troubling aspect of what he's said. 

NAPOLITANO: If he means moral authority then he's entitled to that. But if he means coercive authority, then I don't know what he's talking about. Is he talking about the UN? Is he talking about some super government? Now he's really, really off the beaten path. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, [6/17/15]

Breitbart Editor: Encyclical Includes Language You Would Expect From A “16-Year-Old Trotting Out ... Formulaic Bilge And Accepted Faux-Wisdom.” Breitbart editor James Delingpole criticized the encyclical for including “hackneyed language and extremely dubious science you might expect from a 16-year-old trotting out the formulaic bilge and accepted faux-wisdom required these days to pass a fairly typical exam paper in Geography or Environmental Sciences.” He went on to claim that the encyclical is wrong “scientifically,” “morally,” “theologically,” and “economically.” [Breitbart, 6/16/15]

Fox Business' Stuart Varney Warned That Pope Is In “Alliance” With Obama To “Reshape The World” By “Redistributing The Wealth.” On the June 15 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney warned that Pope Francis and President Obama are forming “a policy alliance” and are “a powerful force, a very powerful force, pushing left.” He then asked: “Will Francis and Barack reshape the world by taxing the rich, taxing fossil fuels, and redistributing the wealth? That's exactly what they are trying to do.” 

Climate Denier And Blogger Steve Milloy: Encyclical Is “Adolescent, Insipid” And Pope Is A “People-Hater.” Steve Milloy, who is paid by fossil fuel industry interests and runs the climate science denial blog, posted a series of tweets attacking the pope's climate encyclical. Milloy called it “adolescent” and “insipid,” compared the pope's actions to those of the KGB, and called Pope Francis a “people-hater.” [Media Matters11/28/12; Twitter, 6/15/156/15/156/15/15]

Breakthrough Institute President: Encyclical Employs A “Shame-Based Narrative.” Michael Shellenberger, the president of the Breakthrough Institute and author of multiple New York Times op-eds, tweeted that the encyclical employs a “shame-based narrative” and declared, “It is blasphemous to call our ancestors, who were trying to improve lives for their children & themselves greedy thieves.”

Shellenberger tweet

[The New York Times10/8/144/9/14; Twitter, 6/16/156/16/15]

Powerline: “The Pope Has No Idea What He's Talking About.” John Hinderaker wrote in the conservative blog Powerline that “the Pope has no idea what he's talking about,” and declared that the pope's “motive is, apparently, hostility toward free enterprise and the prosperity that it creates.” [Powerline, 6/16/15]

Breitbart Promoted Climate Denier's Claim That “Marxists, Global Warming Extremists Control Vatican.” Breitbart promoted the claims of Christopher Monckton, a supposed “expert” for the industry-funded Heartland Institute, in an article headlined, “Climate Expert: Marxists, Global Warming Extremists Control Vatican.” In it, Monckton claimed the pontifical academies of sciences and social sciences are under the “control” of Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, an “out and out marxist who decided that climate change was useful to marxism.” [Breitbart, 6/13/15]

Patriot Post: Pope Francis Acting As “Water Boy For The UN” To Craft A “Global Economic Control” Treaty. A column for the conservative news site Patriot Post said: “Many Catholics in the U.S. take strong exception to the pope acting as a water boy for the UN.” It further claimed the pope's encyclical “may assist with the UN's global climate treaty negotiations at the upcoming Paris summit -- a treaty which would be more accurately called a 'global economic control' treaty.” [Patriot Post, 6/16/15]