ROME–The conventional wisdom goes that in the United States, Democrats believe in manmade climate change and want the government to do something about, while Republicans don’t. But dig a little deeper, and it’s more complex, especially when it comes to Catholicism.
A majority (51 percent) of Republicans who identify as Catholic believe that the earth is warming, compared to just 44 percent of non-Catholic Republicans. Additionally, more Catholic Republicans (36 percent) than non-Catholic Republicans (30 percent) believe human beings are the cause, according to researchers at Yale University.
The analysis comes just a day after Pope Francis released a groundbreaking new encyclical that states unequivocally that the earth is warming, “mainly as a result of human activity,” he wrote.
A leading climate scientist, who happens to be an atheist, said yesterday at the Vatican that he stood by all the science presented in the encyclical.
“These results indicate that the Pope’s message on climate change is likely to find receptive ears among Catholic Republicans and even conservative Catholic Republicans,” Yale’s Anthony Leiserowitz said in a statement.
When it comes to politics, that’s another question.
Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum, both Catholics, have said they do not plan to listen to the pope when it comes to the environment, and a Republican lawmaker told the pope to pipe down last week.
The Yale analysis states that 97 percent of all scientists agree that the earth is warming, a fact known by more Catholic Republicans (30 percent) than non-Catholic Republicans (25 percent).
Catholic Republicans are also slightly more in favor of government programs that could reduce carbon emissions than non-Catholic Republicans, such as tax credits for solar panels or hybrid vehicles (71 to 65 percent) and government funding for solar and wind energy (68 to 64 percent).
The report notes that Catholic Republicans tend to be more moderate in their political views than non-Catholic Republicans, but even Catholic Republicans who describe themselves as “conservative” still believe global warming is a threat at higher rates than non-Catholic “conservative” Republicans (42 to 36 percent).
The Yale findings echo a report released last week the Pew Research Center, which found that most Catholics in both parties agree the earth is warming: 85 percent of Catholic Democrats and 51 percent of Catholic Republicans.
The Yale findings were based on six different studies conducted between 2012 and 2015.