An Italian online journal has leaked details of the pope’s letter to Catholics about the environment. In a move sharply criticized by Vatican officials, L’Espresso published the document days ahead of its official release on Thursday, breaking a press embargo. The Vatican have rushed out a statement saying that the document, entitled “Laudato Si: Care of Our Common Home” is merely a draft and not the final position. The encyclical is due to be delivered at noon on Thursday 18th June 2015. Nevertheless, the supposed contents of his declaration will cause quite stir.
The 192-page document is circulated to all Catholics and forms a basis for church doctrine. The focus is on a Christian concept called “creation care” in which God gave humans the Earth to cultivate, rather than conquer. For the first time, according to the leaked version of the encyclical, the pope articulates the view that global warming is a direct result of human activities and the consumption of fossil fuels. The pope calls for swift action to fight global warming, according to the BBC.
With a background in the sciences before becoming a priest, Pope Francis makes scientific as well as moral arguments for climate conservation. He cites the continual loss of biodiversity in the Amazon and the melting of the Arctic ice cap as examples of human-caused environmental harm. He also claims that developing nations are “bearing the brunt” of Western consumption.
His call to action is to prevent the destruction of the environment. Already, even before this leak, the pope has drawn the ire of conservatives, arguing that he shouldn’t meddle in questions in which “the science is not settled”. The pope has disregarded these claims in the hope of influencing a summit of world leaders who are gathering in Paris in December 2015 for a pivotal United Nations conference on climate change.
Pope’s Thinking Welcomed
On a drive to modernize the Church since he was anointed, Pope Francis has developed a wide appeal, even outside the confines of the Catholic church. One NASA climatologist, Gavin Schmidt, who himself professes no faith, welcomes the pope’s thinking on climate change, telling USA Today that “the pope’s encyclical is probably going to have a bigger impact than the Paris negotiations.”
— The U.S. National (@TheUSNational) June 14, 2015
Pope As Superhero
While we await the official Papal encyclical on Thursday, we can enjoy this tongue-in-cheek superhero trailer of The Pope taking on Big Pollution in a summer blockbuster-style movie.
In it, the pope is seen smiting carbon polluters and doubters, and blessing renewable energy while being coached for a showdown by his mentor, Jesus, in the epic battle against the climate crisis: Pope Francis: The Encyclical.
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