San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said this week that for many Catholic voters the issue of climate change is more important than opposition to abortion.
Since “the survival of the planet, which is the prerequisite for all human life, is at risk,” Bishop McElroy declared in an Oct. 13 online meeting, “many Catholics are concluding that in fidelity to future generations they cannot support a candidate for national office who does not vigorously fight climate change.”
Rejecting the idea that abortion should be the preeminent issue for all Catholics, McElroy said that there are several viable contenders for the weightiest issue in the upcoming election, with no clear winner. Some Catholic leaders, he stated, claim that “Church teaching demands” that climate change is “singularly determinative for faithful voting in the election of 2020.”
“Decisions on climate change in the next four years will either irrevocably amplify or arrest our world’s trajectory toward climate annihilation and the possible ending of all human life on this planet,” he warned.
The bishop said that “there is a clear international scientific consensus that climate change caused by the use of fossil fuels and other human activities poses an existential threat to the very future of humanity, and that air pollution resulting from fossil fuels is already a major cause of premature death on our planet.”
While air pollution is verifiably responsible for numerous premature deaths, it is a separate issue from climate change and it is unclear where the bishop comes up with a “clear international scientific consensus” that climate change poses an “existential threat to the very future of humanity.”
“Existing trajectories of pollutants being placed in the atmosphere by human activity, if unchecked, will raise the temperature of the Earth in the coming decades, generating catastrophic rises in human exposure to deadly heat, devastating rises in water levels and massive exposure to a series of perilous viruses,” McElroy declares.
“In addition, there will be severe widespread famines, droughts and massive dislocations of peoples that will cause untold deaths, human suffering and violent conflict,” he predicts. “This year’s devastating fires are a prophetic sign of what lies before us, and a testimony that, on so many levels, our current pollution of the Earth is stealing the future from coming generations.”
“Because the trajectory of danger unleashed by fossil fuels is increasing so rapidly, the next 10 years are critical to staunching the threat to our planet,” the bishop states, while bemoaning the failure of the United States under the Trump administration to embrace climate alarmism.
In his address, McElroy also claimed that fighting climate change and opposing abortion are both “questions of prudential judgment,” meaning that neither takes absolute precedence over the other.
In their voter guide, however, the U.S. Bishops’ Conference takes a different approach.
“The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed,” the bishops declare.
When that language was being debated among the bishops last fall, Bishop McElroy opposed it but his opinion ultimately did not prevail.