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What Governor Brown’s Vatican visit means for California

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Vatican on climate change on July 21, 2015.
Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at the Vatican on climate change on July 21, 2015.

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Spirituality and climate change appear to be the two biggest items on the agenda as Governor Jerry Brown pays a visit to the Vatican this week, where he’ll meet with Pope Francis and others during a symposium on climate change.

Governor Brown joins five U.S. mayors, including San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, for the visit, which comes a month after the Pontiff put out an encyclical, calling on the scientific and religious communities to work together to fight man-made climate change.

The Governor’s connection to Catholicism is well-documented. Before pursuing his political inclinations, Governor Brown dropped out of Santa Clara University in 1956 to attend the Jesuit novice house Sacred Heart Novitiate, with the intent of becoming a Catholic priest. After three years of study, he left Sacred Heart and enrolled at UC-Berkeley to study Classics. He also spent time in Calcutta, India during the 1980s working with Mother Teresa at one of her hospices to help the dying and destitute.

He and Pope Francis come from similar Jesuit backgrounds and are separated in age by only a year, and many feel that these similarities will help the two connect on an even deeper level.

What are the implications of this meeting for California as a state with high pollution levels? What are the most important things for Governor Brown to emphasize during his meeting with Pope Francis?


David Siders, reporter for the Sacramento Bee covering Governor Brown and state politics. He joins us from Rome, near the Vatican, where he’s covering the Governor’s meeting with Pope Francis. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders for live tweets, photos, and stories about the Governor’s trip.