As 2016 candidates criss-cross Iowa these days, Catholics are being encouraged to talk to them about climate change. This week Bishop Richard Pates wrote an op-ed in the Des Moines Register.

The pope repeatedly calls for dialogue about how we can come together to act on climate change. He says that “reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility” (169). Pope Francis is challenging us all to have an open and honest conversation about the problem and available solutions. As presidential candidates make their way across our great state during the political caucus season, we want them to be part of the conversation, too.

An honest conversation requires acknowledging that there is abundant evidence of increasingly extreme weather and climate change…

An honest conversation acknowledges that humans are causing much of the recent climate change. NASA outlines how 97 percent of climate scientists agree that the climate change over the past century is likely the result of human activity. The dialogue we need is not about whether to act on climate change, but how to act…

With presidential candidates already visiting us regularly, I encourage Catholics across our state, and all people of good will, to talk to them and ask not if, but how, they plan to work toward solutions to climate change.

Wow! That is going to make for some difficult conversations with the Republican candidates. So far their responses have been to either (1) deny climate change, (2) deny that humans are causing climate change, and/or (3) say the Pope should not weigh in on this matter. Bishop Pates isn’t about to let any of that fly. As he made abundantly clear, the “whether” question is not applicable. The only remaining issue is if they can articulate a plan for “how” to work toward solutions. Based on what we’ve heard so far, ALL of the Republican candidates will fail that test miserably.

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