Pope Francis has received a lot of criticism from conservatives for indulging in supposedly political issues during his time as pope. One congressman — Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), a Catholic himself — even said he would boycott Francis's speech to Congress, because the pope has pushed the world to take global warming seriously.
But the pope's defenders argue he's really just making a stand for moral issues. Fox News's Shepard Smith put it quite eloquently in the video above, from Media Matters:
I think that we are in a weird place in the world when the following things are considered political. Five things, I'm going to tick them off. These are the five things that were on [the pope] and our president's agenda. Caring for the marginalized and the poor. That's now political. Advancing economic opportunity for all. Political? Serving as good stewards of the environment. Protecting religious minorities and promoting religious freedom globally. Welcoming [and] integrating immigrants and refugees globally. And that's political?
I mean, I don't know what we expect to hear from an organization's leader like the pope of the Catholic Church other than protect those who need help, bring in refugees who have no place because of war and violence and terrorism. These seem like universal truths that we should be good to others who have less than we do, that we should give shelter to those who don't have it. I think these were the teachings in the Bible of Jesus. They're the words of the pope, they're the feelings of the president. And people who find themselves on the other side of that message should consult a mirror, it seems like. Because I think that's what we're supposed to do as a people, whatever your religion. I mean, it seems to me — and I think to probably, as Bill O'Reilly would put it, most clear-thinking Americans — that that's how we're supposed to roll.
Smith isn't the first to make this type of argument. As Catholic priest Jonathan Morris explained to Fox Business's Stuart Varney, global warming is an international phenomenon that will predominantly hurt poor countries — if wealthy countries don't step up on climate change, they will doom poor nations who simply can't afford to adapt to the chaos that will ensue. So tackling global warming is really about taking care of the environment to help the world's poor — something that seems very much in line with the Catholic Church's teachings.
But in a world in which the parties are becoming increasingly partisan and just about everything — from Cecil the lion to Oscar nominations — is politicized, a lot of people are having a hard time viewing the pope's comments as anything but political. So we now live in a world where even helping the poor is considered unforgivably political.