Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has unleashed an excoriating attack on George Pell, accusing Australia’s most senior Catholic of being a “radical climate sceptic” and saying the cardinal’s “inflated rhetoric” can no longer go unchallenged on the role of the Church in the climate change debate.
In a blistering lecture called “Faith, Ethics and Climate Change,” Mr Rudd said he might have called a double-dissolution election on an emissions trading scheme had he not been robbed of the Labor leadership in 2010. And he said he stood by his claim that “climate change is the greatest moral challenge of our time” and predicted those words would stand the test of time.
The Pope says the science on climate change is sufficiently clear. Cardinal Pell says it is not and further that the purported science is without foundation.
The former Labor prime minister said George Pell needed an “ecological conversion” and noted the cardinal’s denial of climate change science matched the views of former prime minister Tony Abbott, to whom Cardinal Pell is close.
Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has attacked George Pell while urging the Church to support action on climate change. Photo: Peter Rae
“Cardinal Pell has in the past accused me of inflated rhetoric,” Mr Rudd told the Rowan Williams Lecture at Trinity College in Melbourne.
“Such rhetoric, it seems, is not the exclusive province of prime ministers. Princes of the Church are apparently not entirely immune,” Mr Rudd said.
Pell can no longer go unchallenged
Former Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Mr Rudd said the Cardinal’s view that the Church should butt out of politics and climate change policy was deeply at odds with the ethical imperative to protect the environment as well contradictory of Pope Francis’ views.
“The Pope says the science on climate change is sufficiently clear. Cardinal Pell says it is not and further that the purported science is without foundation,” he said.
Cardinal Pell has publicly criticised Pope Francis and told the Financial Times that the Church has “no particular expertise in science” and “no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters”.
Mr Rudd said Cardinal Pell’s comments were illogical.
“To contend that a necessary prerequisite for engagement in these ethical debates in the public square is to be a professionally qualified climate scientist … would render his own contribution to these debates null and void, as Cardinal Pell is qualified in none,” he said.
Mr Rudd said Christians should not be prevented from forming ethical views on public policy just because they don’t have a science degree.
The Pope took aim at “committed and prayerful” Christians who “ridicule expressions of concern for the environment” using “realism and pragmatism” as an excuse. “What they all need is an “ecological conversion,” the Pope said.
“Perhaps the Pope had Cardinal Pell in mind when this paragraph was written,” Mr Rudd suggested on Tuesday.
Greatest moral challenge of our time
Mr Rudd did not retreat from his claim that climate change was the “greatest moral challenge of our time.”
Mr Rudd said although he was attacked for the statement, he was right to make it.
“The all-encompassing scale of the consequences of a failure to act effectively on climate change was, in my view, sufficient to support its description as the greatest ethical challenge of our time.”
“I also believe over the decades ahead this statement will stand the test of time,” he predicted.
Mr Rudd’s “greatest moral challenge” assertion came to be seen as emblematic of the former Labor leader’s soaring rhetoric going unmatched by action, especially after the failure of the Copenhagen talks and the Labor government’s inability to legislate an emissions trading scheme.
Mr Rudd on Tuesday continued to point to the advice of his “most senior ministers,” including former leadership foe Julia Gillard, whom he described as “fundamentally opposed” to a snap election or trying for a third time to legislate a carbon trading scheme.
He suggested that had he not been robbed of the leadership in June 2010, he might still have called a double-dissolution election.
“As for the related attack that my stated belief in the moral significance of climate change should have resulted in a double-dissolution, I would draw attention to the fact that as of June 2010, the window for calling a double-dissolution was still open and remained open until August of that year,” he said.
But he said he “readily concedes” he could have managed the debate better and accepted “full responsibility” for his government’s failures.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/kevin-rudd-blasts-george-pell-over-climate-change-20151110-gkv8lx.html#ixzz3rA1gt6uL
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