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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio and Bush, delicately, say Pope Francis should stay out of politics



Sen. Marco Rubio is staying clear of a direct response to Pope Francis’ major effort to raise awareness of climate change.

Asked today for the Catholic Republican’s views, given how Jeb Bush weighed in a Fox News interview Tuesday, a spokeswoman instead pointed to past things Rubio has said about the Pope.

“Well, look, the pope is a—the pope is a shepherd of a faith. And his desire is peace and prosperity. He wants everyone to be better off,” Rubio said in May when asked about the Pope’s support for restored U.S. relations with Cuba.

But Rubio noted Francis is “not a political figure." (Bush had a slightly different spin yesterday, saying the Pope is not an economic advisor.)

“There are many Roman Catholics on the island of Cuba, and he desires a better future," Rubio said. "And anything he can do to open up more opportunities for them, he's going to pursue.” But again he added some opposition: “My interest as an elected official is the national security of the United States.”

In December, as the Cuba news broke, Rubio was bit more strident, telling reporters that he would “ask his Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy.”

In New Hampshire yesterday, Bush more direct.

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” Bush, a converted Catholic, told Sean Hannity.

“And I’d like to see what he says as it relates to climate change and how that connects to these broader, deeper issue before I pass judgment. But I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

The Pope's push will trickle down through his lieutenants. This summer, Miami's Roman Catholic archbishop, Thomas G. Wenski, "planning a summer of sermons, homilies and press events designed to highlight the threat that a warming planet, rising sea levels, and more extreme storms pose to his community’s poorest and most vulnerable," the New York Times reports.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 17, 2015 1:33pm]


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