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Top cardinal says Jeb Bush is wrong about the link between faith and politics

Cardinal Peter Turkson attends a news conference for the presentation of Pope Francis’s new encyclical titled “Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home,” at the Vatican on June 18.  (Max Rossi/Reuters)
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Recently, GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush, a Catholic, weighed in on Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical, remarking, “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals, or from my Pope. … I think religion ought to be about making us better as people, and less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”

The comments were heavily criticized; but now, they’ve also been gently criticized by a heavyweight.

In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, widely considered to be an important influence behind the papal encyclical and president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, was asked to respond to Bush’s remarks — and particularly the idea that “this is not about morality or theology or religion,” as Amanpour put it.

Turkson responded by calling Bush’s comments “unfortunate,” and then went on to say:

… if you go to his pastors for moral opinion, or moral judgment, what is morality about, if not about our conduct, our decisions, our conscience, and the choices we make? And we don’t make those choices in a vacuum. … Morality has to do with the decisions and choices we make in certain concrete situations, including economic situations. … So the thing about, I go to my pastors and bishops for moral decisions, and then not expecting them to bring religion into business and all of that — I think it’s a very unhappy distinction that is made. Because it’s not real. So I would wish that we stop making this artificial separation between moral issues, theological issues, and business issues.

You can watch the whole segment here.

Meanwhile, President Obama put out a statement about the Pope’s encyclical, saying that “[I] deeply admire the Pope’s decision to make the case — clearly, powerfully, and with the full moral authority of his position — for action on global climate change.”

Taking up the Pope’s own call to focus on the poor and vulnerable, and how they will be affected by a changing climate, Obama also stated: “We must also protect the world’s poor, who have done the least to contribute to this looming crisis and stand to lose the most if we fail to avert it.”