What Congressman Paul Gosar Got Wrong About the Pope

Pope Francis attends the second morning session of the Synod on the Family at the Vatican on October 6, 2015.    AFP PHOTO /
Pope Francis attends the second morning session of the Synod on the Family at the Vatican on October 6, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Apparently the recent rash of devastating floods, wildfires and rising temperatures in the Southwest isn't enough for Arizona congressman Paul Gosar to believe in climate change. By now, you've probably heard that Gosar, a Catholic Republican, boycotted Pope Francis' historic address to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24, where the Pontiff discussed the issue of global warming.

"If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies," Gosar said in a September statement on TownHall.com, "then I will not attend."

Gosar insisted the Pope should turn his focus to challenging governments to address "persecution...enslavement, belittlement, and rape of Christian women and children," and of course "intentionally planned genocide of unborn children by Planned Parenthood."

Planned genocide. Right.

Gosar defended his outlandish statements by claiming to be a "proud Catholic" who attended a Midwestern Jesuit College. He cites his "excellent education" that provided an opportunity for him to "think critically, to welcome debate and discussion and to be held accountable for [his] actions." He also expressed "firm belief" in First Amendment rights, and his desire to strictly adhere to the rule of law.

Stop me if you've heard this tune from Republicans before. It's nothing new for them to tout past accomplishments, while veiling a partisan agenda under the guise of bipartisanship and a morphed sense of what the founding fathers would want for our nation.

The glaring hypocrisy of Gosar's boycott is epitomized by the fact that his very actions are discouraging the debate and discussion he claims to value. Congressman, if you boycott the Pope's speech, you're not only disrespecting the most important figure in your religion, you're also discouraging further debate on important world issues.

Moreover, if Gosar actually watched the Pope's speech, he'd realize that the Bishop of Rome discussed a wide array of issues. His holiness touched on problems with immigration, the illegal arms trade, the death penalty, and yes, defense of life "at every stage."

Although the Pope's condemnation of income inequality echoes the rhetoric of progressives such as Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, the theme of his address was one of unity and cooperation,

"Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one, the greatest common good," he told legislators.

If that's not a plea for bipartisanship, I'm not sure what is.

However, it seems as though Gosar and his fellow Republicans have little interest in supporting bipartisanship. Religion is of paramount importance, but when their faith's leader takes a stand supporting the scientific consensus on climate change, all bets are off.

Take former Pennsylvania Senator and current GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who, this past June told a Philadelphia radio station to "leave science to the scientists" and focus on theology.

It appears Mr. Santorum would leave issues of science to the scientists before he leaves issues of abortion or contraception to qualified medical professionals.

The fact is Pope Francis is revolutionizing worldviews on the papacy in part because of his liberal social positions. Just minutes after his speech to Congress, he turned down a lunch invitation from lawmakers in favor of dining with Washington D.C.'s homeless.

He's called "The People's Pope" for a reason. He's not a politician, yet he believes in the power of politics to unite for the common good. If Gosar and other Republicans want to boycott that message, go ahead. I'm sure the Pope will be devastated by their absence at The Capitol.

The Pope is a man of God, and that gives him even more reason to focus on the issue of climate change. The Earth is God's creation, and he realizes the importance of protecting and sustaining it for future generations.

What's not to like about that, Congressman?