Conservative Group Blasts the Pope: “Paganism” Has “Entered the Church”

A leading climate skeptic organization is worried that “pagan forms are returning to the Church.”


A leading group of climate change skeptics is concerned that paganism is creeping into the Catholic Church. That was the message delivered by Gene Koprowski, director of marketing at the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, at a press conference in Philadelphia Thursday.

The event, which Heartland had billed as a challenge to Pope Francis’ “views on global warming and the nature of capitalism,” was recorded by the liberal group American Bridge. Talking Points Memo first reported on the video Friday. You can watch an excerpt above.

The pope, who is visiting the United States next week, has called on policymakers to take action to control climate change and has criticized the excesses of free market capitalism. According to Koprowski, when Heartland staffers first began reading news stories about the pope speaking out on climate, they were “shocked that the pope was buying into this left-wing political craze that is global warming.” So in April, Heartland sent a delegation of climate skeptics to Rome to offer a “prebuttal” to a Vatican climate summit in an attempt to change the pope’s mind.

“When the Vatican leapt into the controversy on climate science, we were initially under the impression that His Holiness was a victim of bad advice from bad advisers,” Koprowski said Thursday. “There were people from the UN who were population control advocates. There were people from other left-wing groups who were advising the pontiff.”

But Koprowski said that after the pope released his landmark encyclical calling for action on climate change, he began to suspect that “something more may be afoot.” Koprowski then invoked pagan rituals and “nature worship” that he said were “seeping into the Church” during the Middle Ages, adding: “I’m wondering, as a scholar, if pagan forms are returning to the Church this day.”

Koprowski concluded: “I would say, contrary to some of the criticism, that this is not communism that has entered the church. It’s, rather, paganism.”

Heartland and Koprowski did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest