Catholic Republicans More Likely to Think Climate Change is Real: Study

Pope Francis Calls for Action on Climate Change 2:08

Catholic Republicans are moderately more likely to believe in climate change and support policies to combat it than non-Catholic members of the GOP, according to a new analysis of survey data from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

Just over half of all Catholic Republicans say they think global warming is happening, compared to 42 percent of non-Catholic Republicans, according to an analysis of studies by researchers at Yale and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. Prior studies have found that overall, 71 percent of American Catholics believe global warming is happening, with fully 85 percent of Catholic Democrats holding that view.

"What we're finding is that the Republican Party is not homogeneous," Anthony Leiserowitz, the Yale project's director, told NBC News. "It's a broad organization containing a lot of different ways of thinking."

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Looking more narrowly at conservative Republican Catholics, the researchers found that they are more likely than their fellow conservative party members to think the Earth is heating up, at 42 percent to 35 percent. The new analysis comes out a day after the Vatican released a much-anticipated encyclical from Pope Francis, in which the pontiff made a vigorous call for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to consider their role in protecting the environment.