Pope Francis has not been one to mince words or refrain from sharing his thoughts. In December, he accused the Curia (the senior governing group of the Vatican consisting of cardinals, bishops and priests) of suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and of “existential schizophrenia” though he did say that such problems pose a danger to all Christians including himself.
Now, Francis has turned his attention to climate change in a move that will again anger staunch conservatives who were already infuriated by Francis’ prior call to ease global policy via state intervention in the market economy.
According to the website thinkprogress.org, Francis made a biblical case for addressing climate change when he told a large crowd in Rome that, “Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will…[It] is a gift…that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.” Francis continued by calling destruction of the planet a “sinful act” akin to telling God that his creation is faulty or inadequate.
Now, the Pope is encouraging world leaders and approximately 1.2 billion Catholics to take an active role in protecting the planet and thus preventing climate change that too often disrupts ecologies and peoples’ livelihoods. According to Seattle Pi, Francis will soon visit the Philippines’ city Tacloban, which was devastated in 2012 by Super-Typhoon Haiyan. Many believe he will subsequently release an encyclical (a papal letter sent to bishops and intended for wide circulation) concerning the threat of global warming.
As mentioned, American conservatives have not received this news kindly. In fact, Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway reported that the Pope had aligned himself with “a few environmental extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution.”
Still, the Pope’s call for action seems to have widespread support among most Catholics and Christians generally. In 2006, the Evangelical Climate Initiative warned its members that poor nations and individuals are most susceptible to the challenge and threat of global warming. Christians, the organizers said, who are naturally called to care for their neighbors must then care about climate change.
Altogether, it seems then that Catholics, along with other Christians, individuals of other faiths and those with no faith, should join efforts to protect the planet from climate change. In our collective efforts, we can decrease the burden borne by the poorest nations and individuals with the most to lose.
(Photo courtesy of Aleteia Image Department)