The following comes from a June 12 Colorado Statesman article:
Last Thursday, Conservation Colorado honored Tom Steyer, the California investment billionaire and environmental political donor, at its 2015 ‘Rebel With A Cause’ dinner at the Convention Center Hyatt in Denver.
At the gala event — the state’s “green-side-up” glitterati were in full force — was former Gov. Bill Ritter, coiner of the “new energy economy” catch phrase that now echoes in nearly every discussion about global warming, and he had a story to tell. Or not quite tell yet, but with a wink and a grin, he confirmed what we’d been hearing for weeks.
The rumors have been flying fast and furious that the former governor had answered a summons from Pope Francis to assist in crafting the Catholic Church’s pending encyclical on climate change.
We couldn’t resist asking the Global Warming Guru if he had, indeed, been spending some time offering his expertise in Vatican City.
The afore-mentioned grin crossed Ritter’s face as he responded, ”No, but I did spend time in Rome meeting with the Vatican’s policy team drafting the Papal Encyclical.”
Ritter is presently directing the Center for the New Energy Economy at CSU. According to sources and our surmise, Ritter was the only American to serve on the climate change policy advisory team. A devout Catholic — he served as an African missionary with his wife, Jeannie, and weathered periodic attacks from several of the more virulent pro-choice factions within the Democratic Party — Ritter has emerged as a leading international voice in the climate debate.
An official at the U. S. Department of Energy with contacts in the White House hadn’t heard about Ritter’s involvement with the much-anticipated Vatican missive but was interested to hear the news. “No, we didn’t know, but I’m glad he was there!” was the reply from our Department of Energy source.
Ritter would not discuss the particulars of the encyclical, due out on June 18, but he did report, “You’ll be surprised. Pope Francis is not limiting its contents to a narrow discussion of climate change. He will also touch on economics and the equitable distribution of impacts on all of God’s children.”
Following hard on the heels of last week’s sermon, in which the Pope labeled ideological, right-wing Christian fundamentalism as “an illness” that doesn’t serve Jesus Christ, the conservative Catholics who have dominated the Church for the past half-century must be reaching for their blood pressure medicines. Infallibility and the role of the Pope in the Church as the Vicar of Christ were far more congenial concepts when the Vatican’s message was one of pampering the powerful.
As a member of the Democratic Party, Ritter supports a “semi-progressive” agenda, emphasizing universal health care, environmental protection, housing subsidy and welfare increases and other stances aligned with the left wing of the Democratic Party. During the first campaign, more progressive, state Democratic leaders encouraged other candidates, including Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, to pursue the Governorship, because of concerns over Ritter’s pro-life stance. Others believed that Ritter would win more votes in the “purple state”, as opposed to Republican opponents. Hickenlooper did not pursue the office in 2006 and he eventually supported Ritter. Ritter opposes same-sex marriage.
As Governor, Ritter pledged that overturning abortion laws would not be part of his agenda, and stated that he would veto any bill prohibiting abortion that did not provide for an exception for rape, incest, or fetal anomalies. Ritter further stated that he would restore state funding to Planned Parenthood for family planning and would reverse the veto of a bill that would have allowed pharmacists to dispense the emergency contraception known as the morning-after pill. Ritter also staked out moderate positions on business and labor issues, vetoing legislation in 2007 that would have made it easier for workers to form unions, and, mid-term, naming moderate Republican Don Marostica his director of economic development.