Pope Francis to call for action against global warming

Pope Francis is trying to galvanise worldwide opinion on climate change with his encyclical.
GIAMPIERO SPOSITO/Reuters

Pope Francis is trying to galvanise worldwide opinion on climate change with his encyclical.

A draft of a highly anticipated letter on the environment by Pope Francis casts climate change as a threat largely caused by humans and urges action to reduce the emissions that cause global warming.

The Roman Catholic leader's message, delivered in a letter called an encyclical, a draft of which was leaked Monday by an Italian magazine, is expected to prompt a range of responses in the coming months.

It may help galvanize international opinion in advance of an important United Nations conference on climate change that begins in late November, roil the American presidential race by injecting religion into the already contentious politics of global warming and increase questions about the morality and sustainability of a world economy driven by capitalism and consumption.

Pope Francis, seen in St. Peters's square on Sunday, is expected to release encyclical on Thursday.
GIAMPIERO SPOSITO / REUTERS

Pope Francis, seen in St. Peters's square on Sunday, is expected to release encyclical on Thursday.

The 192-page draft, called "Laudato Si, on the care of the common home," was posted online Monday in Italian by the magazine L'Espresso and news outlets scrambled to translate it into English. Many cited a passage that says global warming has been "mostly" caused by "the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and others)" that are "generated by human action" or "due to human activity".

The draft says there is an "urgent and compelling" need for nations to reduce carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels with new sources of renewable energy.

"International negotiations cannot progress in a significant way because of the positions of the countries which privilege their own national interests rather than the global common good," the pope wrote. "Those who will suffer the consequences which we are trying to hide will remember this lack of conscience and responsibility."

READ MORE:
* Storm on climate change awaits pope's environment letter
* The pro-science pontiff: Pope Francis on climate change, evolution and the Big Bang
* Religions belatedly take up green movement

Viewed as a bold act by the pope to sway global opinion on a controversial issue, the encyclical, which the pope planned to release on Thursday, in many ways reflects a religious movement that has been growing for decades, sometimes on the margins, with some Catholic and Christian academics and individual church leaders and congregations increasingly making "creation care" a theological pursuit and a central ministry. In some cases, the approach has helped churches rebuild connections with people who felt Catholicism and other denominations had become too concerned with divisive cultural issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

What matters most about the encyclical, many of these people say, is not that it delivers a new message for Christians but that those who have long cared about climate change now have a formidable new messenger.

"He is taking all the messages that we have been speaking about for 30 years and taking them to an international stage," said Jessie Dye, who is Catholic and is the program and outreach director of Earth Ministry, an ecumenical nonprofit in Seattle. "Everything he does, we're right there with him. The most important thing to remember is that this is church teaching - this is not new."

Ad Feedback

The draft says there is an "urgent and compelling" need for nations to reduce carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels with new sources of renewable energy.

The Vatican confirmed on Monday that the text released by L'Espresso was a draft of the encyclical but said it was "not the final text". It asked other news outlets to refrain from publishing it "to respect professional standards".

Few did. The document has been so widely anticipated that churches around the world have planned Thursday services to celebrate it, research groups have conducted polls on its potential effect and universities and think tanks have been promoting their faculty members for quotation on its contents.

 - MCT

Related Links

Battered coast road reopens video

Pope addresses climate change

The greatest threat to weekend pleasures

Comments

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback