jerrybrown87The following comes from a July 7 LA Times article by Chris Megerian:


Buried in Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change was a reference that Governor Jerry Brown could have appreciated.

The pontiff cited a French priest, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, whose controversial writings on science and religion veered from church dogma and were forbidden for Brown to study when he was a young Jesuit seminary student.

Now, six decades later, the same priest was being used by the pope, leader of the faith to which Brown once pledged, to make the case for addressing climate change, an issue Brown champions.

“What’s unacceptable becomes acceptable,” Brown said in an interview.

The Democratic governor is scheduled to speak here Wednesday at a conference on climate change, where he is seeking partners for his push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The governor has repeatedly said that California cannot fight global warming alone. Here, he can appeal to participants from throughout the Americas and lay groundwork for his attendance at a global environmental summit in Paris later this year.

For Brown, who left the seminary and eventually began his long career in government, climate change is an issue that melds the spiritual and the political.

Unlike some politicians, Brown is mostly private about his faith, and he declined to discuss his personal practices. But he occasionally cites his religious background in announcing political decisions, and it clearly remains a key influence.

Over the years, Brown became well known for sampling other philosophies and beliefs, notably a period of studying Zen Buddhism in Japan in the 1980s.

But his Jesuit background remained a constant influence. Brown told a Times reporter in 1987 that he was at the Zen monastery on the advice of some priests, and he spoke of the intersection of politics and spirituality.

“Religious fanaticism has caused countless bloodshed, even today, but there is also within religion a tradition of liberality, of respect for the individual and of compassion,” he said.

The governor does not always align his policies with church teachings. Like many Catholic Democrats, he supports legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.

But on environmental issues, Brown’s approach appears consistent with the pope’s views, according to the Most Reverend Michael Barber, bishop of Oakland.

Brown “teaches that consuming and having more things is not the true goal of society,” Barber said. “That is a very Catholic thing.”

Brown clearly welcomes the coalescence of climate change and religion in the pope’s encyclical. Francis’ involvement, Brown said, is “bringing a moral and theological dimension that adds to the market and political calculations.”
Some Catholics have chafed at the pope’s decision to become involved in the issue of global warming. Rick Santorum, a former Republican senator from Pennsylvania who is running for president, said he’s “better off leaving science to the scientists.”

In response, Brown tweaked Santorum on Twitter.

“The science is clear,” the governor wrote. “Climate change is not a hoax, but an existential threat. Get with the science, get with the @Pontifex” (the pope’s Twitter name).

Francis and Brown don’t see eye to eye on everything. In his encyclical, the pope expressed concern about cap and trade, a system used by California in which permits to pollute are traded and fees are levied.

“In no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require,” Francis wrote. “Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”