It appears that Rick Santorum is a "cafeteria Catholic," putting abortion and gay rights on his tray, but leaving global warming and wealth inequality in the proverbial steam tray.

Here's a dilemma: You're a staunch Catholic far rightwing Republican 2016 GOP hopeful. You're looking to throw red meat to a faction of the party base, which is bent on denying the existence of climate change, when an international public figure is expected to weigh in with his opinion supporting global warming. So you tell him to back off and leave the science to the "science guys." The only problem is, the international public figure is Pope Francis, who just so happens to have a master's degree in chemistry.

Those comments happened during a Philadelphia radio station interview Monday with GOP candidate Rick Santorum, ThinkProgress reports.

"The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science," Santorum told radio host Dom Giordano. "We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we're really good at, which is theology and morality."

Santorum's comments come in advance of an encyclical letter on the environment that the Vatican is expected to release in mid June. The letter is expected to be the Catholic Church's strongest statement to date on global warming and the moral issues connected to it.

Pope Francis' stance on wealth inequality and climate change is well-known.

In October 2014, the Guardian reported the pontiff argued for new a financial and economic system to avoid human inequality and ecological devastation.

"The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness," he said.

Santorum disagrees.

"When we get involved with controversial and scientific theories, I think the Church is not as forceful and not as credible," Santorum said during Monday's interview. "I've said this to the Catholic bishops many times - when they get involved in agriculture policy, or things like that, that are really outside of the scope of what the Church's main message is, that we're better off sticking to the things that are really the core teachings of the Church as opposed to getting involved in every other kind of issue that happens to be popular at the time."

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