Rick Santorum and Pope Benedict"Who you callin' radical?" (Photos by Gage Skidmore and Catholic Church, England and Wales)

Rick Santorum presents himself as a devout Catholic, and he certainly holds fast to the church’s line against birth control. But on the issue of climate change, he’s more than happy to stray from the pope’s teachings. Here’s what Santorum had to say at a campaign event on Feb. 6:

[Climate change is] an absolute travesty of scientific research that was motivated by those who, in my opinion, saw this as an opportunity to create a panic and a crisis for government to be able to step in and even more greatly control your life. … I for one never bought the hoax.

Pope Benedict XVI has been consistent and clear [PDF] in saying that global leaders need to confront the challenge of climate change. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, also called for climate action, as have many other leaders within the church hierarchy. Last year, the Vatican issued a report warning about the “serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.”

Most recently, Pope Benedict called for coordinated global action on climate change before the start of the U.N. climate talks in Durban, South Africa, in November 2011:

I hope that all members of the international community can agree on a responsible, credible and supportive response to this worrisome and complex phenomenon, keeping in mind the needs of the poorest populations and of future generations.

It looks like the pope is in on the scam! How else do you explain the Vatican aiding the Obama administration during the Copenhagen climate talks in December 2009? Vatican officials pressured countries behind the scenes to sign on to the Copenhagen Accord, a fact revealed in WikiLeaks documents.

It seems Agenda 21 goes all the way to the top. Stay tuned for the pope’s directives on bike lanes and smart meters.

The plot thickens

Considering that Santorum is so at odds with his own religious leaders on environmental issues, it’s bizarre that he’s been loudly linking religion and environmentalism in recent comments on the campaign trail.

Last month, Santorum said that opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is just “pandering to radical environmentalists who don’t want energy production, who don’t want us to burn more carbon. It has nothing to do with a pipeline. It has to do with an ideology, a religion of its own that’s being pushed on the American public.”

This past week, he went further. In the course of discussing Obama’s energy policies before a Tea Party crowd in Columbus, Ohio, Santorum described the president’s agenda like this: “It’s not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology.”

That raised questions about whether Santorum was accusing Obama of not really being a Christian. His press secretary clarified on MSNBC that Santorum was merely referring to the president’s “radical Islamic policies.” Oh, wait, no, make that his radical “environmentalist policies,” she clarified an hour later. (See: Santorum campaign can’t tell the difference between environmentalism and Islam.)

Santorum then waded back in to clarify his campaign’s clarification:

I was talking about the radical environmentalists. … When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, like for example the politicization of the whole global-warming debate. I mean, this is just all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government.

So scientists have colluded with socialists all around the world to cook up this elaborate climate scheme, and Obama is one of the puppet masters, “imposing his values on the Christian church,” and even the pope has been tricked into buying this whole hoax and leading the world’s billion-plus Catholics astray? Paging Dan Brown!

Juan Cole has rounded up 10 more issues on which Santorum disregards the Catholic Church’s teachings, from the war in Iraq to welfare to the death penalty. But at least Santorum sides with the hierarchy when it comes to downplaying Catholic sex-abuse scandals.

(h/t Matthew Ott & Badgersouth)

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