NEW REPORT: Kochs vs. The Pope

Ever since Pope Francis signaled that he would be issuing an encyclical, or papal teaching, definitively stating that climate change is man-made and calling for swift action, the Koch brothers’ network has been desperately trying to get ahead of the narrative. CNN described the Koch-funded Heartland Institute as “the headquarters for the U.S.-based opposition to Pope Francis’ climate change plans.” Heartland “churned out podcasts, videos, and white papers, and recently arranged a trip to Rome — all in an effort to build opposition to the pope’s environmental message.”

Heartland argued that Pope Francis was “out of his element” and was being misled by UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon, who “violate[d] the Eighth Commandment” by “bear[ing] false witness” on climate data. And they’re not alone– candidates seeking the approval of the Kochs told the Holy Father to stay out of politics.  Jeb Bush, who cited the pope while defending his intervention in the Terri Schiavo case?  Check.  The 2012 standard bearer of religious Republican voters, Rick Santorum? Check.  But “the pope’s closest adviser” vehemently disagreed; Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga “slammed climate-change skeptics, blaming capitalist motivations from ‘movements in the United States’ for opposing the Catholic Church leader’s upcoming environmental letter.”

Last month, Bridge Project released a Spanish-language web ad focusing on the Kochs’ efforts to strongarm the Holy Father, and despite their protestations, the Kochs’ philosophy is not “the least bit consistent” with the Catholic Church’s teachings on social justice. The Koch network’s advocacy has gone against statements by the pope and other leaders in the church not just on climate change, but also on livable wages, access to affordable health care, and fair labor issues. Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter wrote, “To believe that the teachings of the church can be reconciled with the Koch brothers’ agenda is Alice in Wonderland-quality foolishness.”

Bridge Project has documented the scope of the Kochs’ targeting of Pope Francis in a new report here.