These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church’s thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing.
As expected, there was a conservative backlash. Rick Santorum made more of a fool of himself than usual, telling Francis to leave the environment to scientists. This was painfully ironic given that Francis is actually a qualified chemical technician, whereas Santorum has no scientific qualifications whatsoever (and allegedly failed finger painting and clay snakes in kindergarten). It is even more ironic given that Francis is the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, to which Santorum himself belongs.
Even astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke out in support of Francis, commenting wittily "Yes, it’s possible to be a supreme holy figure yet still know what you are talking about regarding the Climate", and observing more seriously "The Pope employs a dozen full time astrophysicists as part of the four-century old Vatican Observatory". Other scientists have expressed their appreciation and support for the encyclical.
“The Pope more or less gets it right on the science,” said Kerry Emanuel, professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “But what struck me was his linking of environmental degradation to cultural, political and social decline. That’s the most valuable part of the document because it says that climate change is not an isolated problem.”
The response within the Catholic community has generally been positive, and Catholic leaders in several countries are now campaigning actively for environmental care and mitigation of environmental damage.