Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.

The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which he blamed apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness. The most vulnerable victims are the world’s poorest people, he declared, who are being dislocated and disregarded.

The first pope from the developing world, Francis, an Argentine, used the encyclical — titled “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You” — to highlight the crisis posed by climate change. He placed most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity while warning of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us” if swift action is not taken. Developed, industrialized countries were mostly responsible, he said, and were obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis.

Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” he wrote. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

The Vatican released the encyclical at noon on Thursday, following a heavily attended news conference and amid widespread global interest. Vatican officials were infuriated after an Italian magazine on Monday posted a leaked draft of the encyclical online — one that almost exactly matched the final document. The breach led to speculation that opponents of Francis inside the Vatican wanted to embarrass him by undermining the planned rollout.

But on Thursday, religious figures, environmentalists, scientists, elected officials and corporate executives around the world were awaiting the official release of the encyclical, with many of them scheduling later news conferences or preparing statements to discuss it. Media interest was enormous, partly because of Francis’ global popularity, but also because this was the first time that a pope had written an encyclical about environmental damage — and because of the intriguing coalition he is proposing between faith and science.

“Humanity is faced with a crucial challenge that requires the development of adequate policies, which, moreover, are currently being discussed on the global agenda,” Cardinal Peter Turkson said during the morning news conference at the Vatican. “Certainly, Laudato Si’ can and must have an impact on important and urgent decision to be made in this area.”

Source: The New York Times

Date: June 2015

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Tags assigned to this article:
climate changeenergyenvironment

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