Washington Post opinion writer George F. Will has slammed Pope Francis' comments regarding climate change, saying they are factually incorrect, “intellectual dishonesty” and have “the intellectual tone of fortune cookies.”
In a scathing review of the Pope’s stance on the prevention of climate change and “compulsive consumerism,” Will draws attention to what he feels are hypocrisies between Pope Francis’ comments and his actions, as well as the actions of the Catholic Church.
“He leaves the Vatican to jet around praising subsistence farming, a romance best enjoyed from 30,000 feet above the realities that such farmers yearn to escape,” he writes, while comparing the Pope’s lifestyle to the 1.3 billion worldwide farming and living without electricity.
Once describing himself as an "amiable, low voltage atheist,” George Will is a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist and political commentator who aligns himself with conservative politics and identifies as a denier of climate change.
Will himself is not known for completely and accurately outlining the facts when it comes to climate science. He was the author of a controversial Washington Post column in 2009 in which he stated that the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center had data showing that “global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979".
Despite the Center publicly saying that this was false and that global sea ice area had greatly decreased since 1979, Will published a further article insisting he had accurately reported their findings.
Columnist George Will derides Pope Francis' "fact-free flamboyance" http://t.co/9z7UD19EmG pic.twitter.com/RTUiuOjK95— Idaho Statesman (@IdahoStatesman) September 21, 2015
Pope Francis Divides the Right: George Will Attacks Him On Climate Change, etc. http://t.co/Z5jHo8HSak #PopeFrancis pic.twitter.com/hzqoHHxHGX— craigunger (@craigunger) September 21, 2015
In his brutal review, Will claims that despite the current Pope being described as a Pope for the lower classes, a champion of the poor, and holding ideals disagreeing with immense wealth and capitalism, the policies that Pope Francis puts forward do nothing to help the plight of the poor and may in fact work against them.
“With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak,” he continues.
Referring to Pope Francis’ statements as “woolly sentiments,” Will cites the Pope's recent comment that “[p]eople occasionally forgive, but nature never does” as an example of what Will feels are increasingly vacuous statements coming from the Vatican with no meaning, no truth or no supporting facts.
“Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible?” he questions, referring to his own belief that climate change is not set to change the planet, nor does it exist.
Will also believes that although Pope Francis has stated that the church could not properly weigh in on scientific questions, the Holy See cites what the Pope believes as scientific fact.
The Pope “proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled,” Will argues.
If the Pope was, in fact, committed to the eradication of worldwide poverty, Will writes, Francis would see that poverty has been reduced with thanks to “industrialization powered by fossil fuels.”
“Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels.
“Francis jauntily makes his church congruent with the secular religion of ‘sustainability.’ Because this is hostile to growth, it fits Francis’ seeming sympathy for medieval stasis, when his church ruled the roost, economic growth was essentially nonexistent and life expectancy was around 30.”
Will’s column is the latest in a string of bad publicity for Pope Francis, who appears to be attracting an increasing amount of criticism from within the church and without. Dissenters such as Cardinal Raymond Burke of Saint Louis and Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia have called into question his interpretation of Catholic ideals and questioned whether he is even a good Catholic.
Not everyone loves Pope Francis. @RNS POPE WATCH: Slams from Che's daughter & George W. Will: http://t.co/eNWjXWey1O pic.twitter.com/i6HIbfdJHL— Cathy Lynn Grossman (@CLGrossman) September 20, 2015
A new column taking aim at the Pope's climate change arguments is why they invented "smdh": http://t.co/pH9EpfRlcT— Esquire Magazine (@esquire) September 21, 2015
Some critics also claim that Pope Francis is strongly anti-American. He has been criticized for his decision to visit Cuba prior to his arrival in the US this week and for his own criticism of an unjust global economic system. Francis has been branded a “camouflaged Marxist.”
"There are unmistakable signals that he sees the United States as part of the problem as much as the solution,” said John Allen, a religious writer for the website Crux.
"He feels some of the same ambivalence about the United States many Latin American bishops do."