Marco Rubio’s peculiar definition of “morality”

Marco Rubio is a practicing Catholic, but he doesn’t take his economic advice from no freaking pope, OK?

Appearing on “Special Report,” Sen. Rubio (R-FL) told host Bret Baier that Pope Francis is “infallible” — but only on questions of morality.

“On moral issues, he speaks with incredible authority,” Rubio said. “He’s done so consistently on the value of life, on the sanctity of life, on the importance of marriage and on the family. [But] On economic issues, the pope is a person.”

OK, sure, but define “economic issues”?

Rubio then went on to argue that Pope Francis could authoritatively advocate against poverty and climate change, but that he did not have authority on the specific political solutions to those problems. Rubio cited the Holy Father’s historic criticism of capitalism, and defended capitalism as being better for the poor.

“We have the same goal — providing more prosperity and upward mobility, I just honestly believe free enterprise is a better way of doing it.”

"You know what is a moral issue? Good hydration."
“You know what is a moral issue? Proper hydration.”

See, that’s interesting, how you’ve limited “questions of morality” to gays and abortion, but it seems to me, and I’m not a practicing Catholic anymore, but it does seem to me that Jesus, in the, ah, Bible, I think it’s called? He spent a lot of time talking about taking care of the poor. Like, a whole lot. Really. In fact, he spent a lot more time talking about the poor than he did about, um, gays and abortion (to be fair, the Old Testament does care a lot about punishing gays, though what it says about abortion is…interesting).

Now, I think it’s fine to disagree with the Pope, any Pope, on any number of things, though of course I’m not a practicing Catholic, and Rubio’s preferred method for “providing more prosperity” hasn’t actually done much to provide more prosperity. But completely defining “poverty” out of the realm of “morality” is going a little too far, don’t you think? I mean, Jesus certainly treated it as a moral issue, and isn’t Catholic morality (something with which a practicing Catholic like Rubio ought to at least have a passing familiarity) pretty closely tied up in the example and teachings of, you know, Jesus?

Climate change is a little harder to tease out, of course, since in Jesus’s time the climate wasn’t on a crash course with “post-apocalyptic hellscape” the way it is today. But I have to say, I think there’s a pretty strong argument to be made that climate change is also an issue of morality, and I think Pope Francis does a pretty good job of framing it that way:

In the meantime, the pontiff emphasised his belief that politicians owe a debt not just to the planet and their children, but particularly to the underprivileged in the world seen as most at risk from the effects of global warming.

“Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them,” he said.

“Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies,” he added. “To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.”

Climate change causes grave suffering to people all around the world. It disproportionately causes suffering among the poorest populations on the planet, people whose homes are literally disappearing beneath the rising seas. How is this not a moral issue? Does Marco Rubio, who gets mad when you call him a climate change denier, so he apparently doesn’t reject the science, have an argument for excluding climate change from the realm of morality that isn’t entirely self-serving?

I think I have more respect for the clods who just refuse to accept that man-made climate change is real despite all the scientific evidence than for a guy like Rubio, who wants to have it both ways by accepting the science but then pretending it’s not relevant, or that there’s nothing America can do about it, or that the cure would somehow be worse than the disease. At least the clods have the courage of their convictions; Rubio just seems like a coward trying to duck an incredibly important issue.

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