AZ officials laud pope's speech, except Rep Gosar

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona's congressional delegation praised Pope Francis' address to Congress on Thursday, all except Rep. Paul Gosar, who boycotted the speech and criticized the pontiff for prioritizing climate change over religious intolerance.

The Flagstaff Republican and Catholic said in a statement that he was not trying to tell the pope what to speak about. Instead, "what I am doing is using my feet to voice my disappointment in the Pope's decision to prioritize climate change over speaking out against religious intolerance happening across the world."

The boycott brought him derision from Stephen Colbert, the Late Show host who spent part of his monologue Wednesday night taking jabs at Gosar's position.

"Anger at the pope's views on global warming will come to a head tomorrow morning because Catholic Arizona congressman and Supercuts test model Paul Gosar has announced he is boycotting Pope Francis's address to Congress," adding "'if the pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change than he can do so in his personal time,"' Colbert said. "Personal time? What personal time are you talking about ... a pope is always pope even when he's pooped."

Republicans and Democrats in the state's delegation chose to embrace different portions of the pope's message, which ranged from a call to embrace immigration and fight climate change to protecting human life at all stages and abolishing the death penalty.

Republican Rep. Trent Franks focused on the pope's stance on abortion.

"So thankful that (hash)PopeFrancis used this platform to say human life deserves protection at every stage of development," Franks said on Twitter.

Others like Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva praised the pope's call to "redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity."

"We can't keep consuming scarce resources, polluting our atmosphere, dumping our trash and paving over our wilderness without expecting consequences," Grijalva said in a statement. "The Pope gave an enormous wakeup call today to everyone who thinks unregulated consumption is an unending free ride."

Gov. Doug Ducey attended the address as a guest of Rep. Matt Salmon.

"As a lifelong Catholic, I have great admiration for Pope Francis," Ducey said. "His message of hope and compassion is one the world should hear and take to heart."
 

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