The state Senate approved a resolution on Thursday praising Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change and calling on politicians to heed its call for better stewardship of the environment.
Gov. Jerry Brown is taking a copy of the resolution with him to the Vatican next week for an international conference on climate change and modern slavery. He's scheduled to leave the state on Friday and deliver speeches on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The resolution, SR 37, says the state's leaders should "consider the implications of the papal encyclical and climate change in their policy and fiscal actions to prevent further environmental degradation."
The pope is reminding politicians that "we have a moral obligation to do much more" to protect the environment and help the poor, said Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
It passed with near-unanimous support, but not before some debate over the proper relationship between secular lawmaking and religious guidance.
Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego) criticized a "cafeteria attitude" to the encyclical, where statements on climate change are endorsed and opposition to abortion is ignored. Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) called the resolution "a classic example of mixing church and state."
De León batted down those concerns.
"Of course we, as a Legislature, don't defer any authority to the Holy See," he said.