pope climate change

Pope Francis, in being so outspoken against climate change, has become a prominent liberal voice

Francis Said What?

Pope Francis recently released his encyclical, the open letter titled “Laudato Si” and subtitled “On Care For Our Common Home.” As expected, the 187 page document is a call for a major shift in cultural perspectives on environmental awareness. What’s surprising is the encyclical’s strong and varied language on the matter. In short, it makes plain Pope Francis’s belief that climate change is real and that humans are responsible for it.

To be sure, climate change isn’t the encyclical’s only concern. Rather, the letter is an indictment of many things that Pope Francis thinks of as harmful habits of the modern era. In the letter, he not only decries the lack of environmental stewardship practiced by modern people, but also the wastefulness of modern economies and the thoughtless way that many modern people use technology.

What Does the Document Actually Say?

The language of the letter is a passionate mix of religious entreaties and, perhaps most surprisingly, scientific reasoning. The pope specifically calls on people of faith and people of science to work together, even those for whom those two concepts rarely interact. Pope Francis demonstrates that he is conversant in the chemistry of carbon emissions and the biology of how pollution impacts health. His use of such terminology also implicitly pulls the often science-averse Catholic Church into a shared conversation with climate scientists and scientifically educated laypeople.

Environmental stewardship is just one aspect of the encyclical. Arguably, more of the large document’s overall word count is devoted to the larger topic of social justice. Pope Francis uses secular phrasing in some sections, outright denouncing major corporations for their roles in the creation of wealth inequality and horrible living and working conditions for people in the developing world.

The pope also appeals to religious reasoning, devoting an entire chapter to Catholic justifications for his secularly worded concerns in previous chapters. He connects Mary, Mother of Jesus to the Christian obligation of tending to the least fortunate among us, saying, “Just as her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this world laid waste by human power.” Later, he says of St. Joseph, “The Gospel presents Joseph as a just man, hard-working and strong. But he also shows great tenderness, which is not a mark of the weak but of those who are genuinely strong, fully aware of reality and ready to love and serve in humility. That is why he was proclaimed custodian of the universal Church.”

What Do You Think?

The entirety of “Laudato Si” is available online at the Vatican website, both in Web and PDF. Pope Francis invites all living people to enter the conversation started in this encyclical, so share your thoughts with us here. Do you agree with Pope Francis about environmental stewardship and social justice?

25 comments

  1. J. Paul Lanier says:

    The evidence for climate change caused by human activities is massive. The consequences of not addressing this are catastrophic.

    1. L Joubert says:

      I agree whole heartedly. People don’t care about the environment any more. People these days don’t care about anything but themselves and what they can get out of situations.

    2. Rev. Ken Friberg says:

      Human causes are indisputable. It is now too late to turn back, but at the very least, we must acknowledge our destructive activities.

  2. Lois says:

    I don’t believe man is able to to stop the momentum of the relentless pursuit for more, More, MORE!!! The planet and its demise is a direct result.

  3. Minister Robert Smith says:

    Has a.Minister of the ulc, I agree that the Pope is right on the point that Humanity is the major cause of global warning, however the true responsibility falls on Govetmments and Global Companies whos Policies have brought this about.

  4. Minister Robert Smith says:

    Should read Governments.

  5. David Henderson says:

    AMEN!! I pray that this will cause more people to pay attention. It is not too late to prevent the worst, but we are going to still suffer from what we have already done to pollute the earth.

  6. Margaret says:

    Exactly!

  7. doug barron says:

    It was “Global warming.” Well, Al Gore couldn’t sell that one, so now it’s “climate change.” And yes there is much boiled, cooked, and “adjusted statistical evidence” for “climate change.”
    Any one heard of the solar minimum cycle the sun goes through every few hundred years? No? Pope and uncle Al didn’t tell anyone about that little fact. Sun cools down a bit, earth cools down a lot. Then all slowly returns to status quo. Too many Neanderthals caused climate change so long ago? Dinosaur farts? We’ll never know!
    Is climate change real? Sure. Is it a cyclical phenomenon? Yes. The sun goes through cyclical climate change also, and we are affected.
    Those who want to forestall climate change by human efforts, get rid of all your petroleum based clothing, electronics, (yes, your computer and big screen TV), park your cars, turn off all AC/heat in your homes, no electricity, no air travel, shall I continue? I wonder if the thermostats in the Vatican have been turned to the off position? I wonder if the Pope’s air fleet has been grounded. Aircraft use a HUGE amount of fuel and emit HUGE amounts of carbon monoxide.
    The hypocrite thinks change needs to begin with someone else’s sacrifice, not their own. At present, the Pope is a hypocrite!

    1. mary therese lemanek says:

      What the pope says is consistent with his life style. I see no exporting of responsibility on his part; rather the challenge to all of us to evaluate our own beliefs and practices. Which seems to be a bit of a threat to many people.

    2. J. Paul Lanier says:

      Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published volumes of information supporting the scientific findings on human-caused climate change (see links). These include references to scientific studies on global warming as well as ocean acidification. There is no massive cover-up or cooking of data. Getting rid of all petroleum products is a straw man argument. No one advocates doing that.
      http://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_ALL_FINAL.pdf
      http://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5-PartA_FINAL.pdf
      http://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg2/WGIIAR5-PartB_FINAL.pdf
      http://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg3/ipcc_wg3_ar5_full.pdf
      http://ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf

    3. BJM says:

      I am a professional scientist. You seem to be confusing the Sun’s (roughly) 11 year cycle with whatever you thought. Trust me, the Sun’s irradiance is tracked carefully. There are studies looking at solar output since about 1700. The change in irradiance does not track with changing temperatures. The change in temperature tracks with increased CO2 output from humans.

  8. Soul Awakening says:

    What about HAARP

    1. Brother John says:

      What about HAARP indeed. There are certainly cycles that affect our weather, but the changes we’re experiencing now are anthropomorphic. Geo-engineering has been going on for decades and continues on a large scale today. This includes HAARP, aerial spraying and more. Discounting them as “conspiracy theories” allows them to continue with relatively minimal exposure. It’s also foolish as they are both very real and easily verifiable.

      Here’s an article addressing the hot vs cold weather phenomenon from one of the most comprehensive and well documented sources of information.

      http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/crushing-el-nino-engineering-winter-from-warmth/

      In order to deny geo-engineering one must either not look at the sky regularly or believe what you’re seeing are actually contrails. It’s right out in plain view for all to see (do deny).

      1. BJM says:

        Hi – I’m a scientist by day.

        Humans cannot micromanage weather systems. The closest thing to geoengineering occurring today is dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which causes energy to be retained in the atmosphere. The excess energy can be manifested in many ways – not just warmer temps, but more storms (including blizzards – yes, really).

        Regarding *contrails* – these occur when the air is very close to the water vapor saturation point and an aircraft flies through the airmass and the air pressure drop over the wing results in condensation – which is easily seen. If “The Cabal/Illuminati/Overlords/Myself” wanted to poison the masses, there are far better ways to deliver chemicals. Frankly, if I wanted to lull people into inaction I’d just make really compelling TV shows and events, make them easily accessible, and…uh, you get the gist. 🙂

        Regarding HAARP – it is used for ionospheric measurements and experiments. It is not a weather control machine.

        Going back up to near the beginning of the thread, there is no way that humanity is going back to the 18th-19th century (i.e. go back before the Industrial Age). It isn’t just a matter of “convenience” (though I do like my AC, fridge, food from foreign lands, etc.) – it is a matter of population support. If you want to carry 7 billion+ people, you must rely upon technology – lots of tech, including transportation. It took a century (give or take) to get where we are; it will likely take a century (or more) to get out of it without causing a lot of excess deaths. (Sudden shut down of all technology will cause a lot of sudden death.)

        Not everything on the Internet is true, btw.

        Have a great day/night.

        Questions? (::ducks away from objects thrown by “both” sides::)

  9. Ned Brubeck says:

    I believe in global warming. I do not believe it is entirely man made. If it was, what did those cavemen do to cause them to recede as much as they did before coal usage began? A recent study said that the glaciers, world wide, are covered with coal ash from the late 19th and early 20th century coal usage. This ash causes the glaciers to melt even faster and nothing can be done about that. I also believe that thinking that we can “reverse” global warming is naive or delusional, and that money spent on it is wasted. IMHO.The wise thing to do is to accept that the climate is changing and begin the work of mitigating the consequences there of.

    1. Ned Brubeck says:

      Should read “what did those cave do to cause the glaciers to recede”.

  10. mary therese lemanek says:

    Climate change is far different than a cyclical weather pattern. Certainly living in a sustainable manner will cost businesses and individual more in the short term but the long term cost of ignoring the damage that we are doing to the environment is incalculable.

  11. Greg Walton says:

    There is no conclusive evidence for large scale man-made global cooling, global warming, climate change or whatever the current label is, Officials with the UN have admitted that the continued media campaign is done to try to influence smaller countries. The authors of the original study has admitted to falsifying their data. The US has had a cooling trend for the last decade (http://dailycaller.com/2015/06/15/americas-most-advanced-climate-station-data-shows-us-in-a-10-year-cooling-trend/). The Vatican’s conference did not allow anyone with an opinion other than those in favor of global warming so on it’s face it is suspect. Much like the myriad of surveys that come out with questionable results. You can make surveys say anything you want just by wording the questions so as to give the answers that will prove what you want to prove via surveys. If you only have one opinion the results will be for that opinion and they will be favorable to that opinion. One major volcanic eruption or a reduction in sunspot activity will result in a period of cooling. A lack of volcanic activity or an increase in sunspot activity will result in a period of warming.

    1. Brother John says:

      “Thirteen of the 15 hottest years in the 150-year-long record occurred between 2000-14 and the researchers found there is a just a 0.01% chance that this happened due to natural variations in the planet’s climate. There is overwhelming evidence that climate change is attributed to human activity, but not necessarily CO2. Do some research about geo-engineering.”

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/25/record-hot-years-near-impossible-without-manmade-climate-change-study

      https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/201505

  12. John says:

    There are 246 paragraphs in Pope Francis’ encyclical. Only 4 paragraphs are devoted to climate change, but most media coverage seemed to stress only this relatively minor part of the encyclical. The pope’s recommendations are remarkably similar to those of Naomi Klein in he recent book, This Changes Everything.

    The effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is unpredictable and climate change is one possible consequence. More predictably, digging up poisonous substances from their natural subterranean location and releasing them into the environment will eventually harm nature, including humans. Whether these substances are organic, e.g. petroleum, or mineral, e.g. the toxic rare earth substances used in solar panels and electric cars, they will eventually cause problems.

    The Pope emphasized a need to change our life-styles and economic choices. He advised against trust in profit-generating technological solutions. In fact, the history of air pollution serves as a good example of false technological hopes. By the 1960s medical journals reported that thousands of people in NY and London were dying from air pollution. New emissions laws saved lives, but by the 1970s these new technologies created a new problem — acid rain. The solution? Catalytic converters to change emissions to “harmless” carbon dioxide and water. The Pope emphasized the need for more efficient living and energy saving, e.g. efficient mass transit. His recommendation would have served us well in the 1970s and we may have prevented the current crisis. All of the proposed “renewables” (with the possible exception of wind) foreshadow ever worsening environmental catastrophes.

    Alarms of climate change may be warranted, but recommendations to increase productions of electric cars, nuclear plants, solar panels, and even geothermal energy (how much can we lower the earth’s core temperature?) raise the possibility of ever greater problems. As the Pope and Naomi Klein emphasized, the environmental problem is not technological, it is socioeconomic. We must learn to live a more rewarding and less consumptive lives.

    I am suspicious of the disproportionate emphasis on climate change. There are greater, better documented, and more current environmental problems that should be addressed but are ignored in favor of climate change.

    For example, in 2012 a UN/WHO report documented the omnipresence of endocrine modifying chemicals in the environment. Survey, historical, and experimental results documented the role of these chemicals in myriad medical and environmental conditions: 20-40% decreased fertility in humans and animals, obesity, diabetes, behavioral disorders, and many more. The report can be accessed at no charge on-line. Unlike PCBs and DDT, these chemicals are short-lived in the environment and, if industrial release was curtailed, this problem could essentially be eliminated in 6 months. It is frustrating that environmental efforts essentially ignore such a prevalent, serious, and solvable problem.

    Worse still, proposed solutions for climate change raise the specter of ever more catastrophic environmental crises. The extraction of selenium, gallium, arsenic, cadmium, etc. that are necessary for solar panels, are environmentally devastating. Solar panel toxic wastes and leakage into water are already an environmental concern and a pending new crisis. The Pope reasonably hinted that promoters of these alternate energy products may be more business men than environmentalist.

    The Pope’s encyclical is not about science. It’s about ethics and right-living. He offers solutions to the environment that are more believable, balanced, and rational than those of the “climate scientists.”

  13. Dawn Golas says:

    I think the pope needs to stick to religon and stay out of politics.

  14. Susanne says:

    Personally, I would like to see the Pope focus on spiritual growth issues more than on political ones. If more people were in alignment with their source, the rest will follow (including taking better care of our physical environment).

  15. Brother John says:

    Those who accept that humans are responsible for climate change usually believe it’s principally because of the use of fossil fuels. A much more insidious and overlooked human intervention has been geo-engineering. It is the source of the increasingly violent weather including the unusually cold events, created to derail the “global warming” data.
    Incredibly, the key component of geo-engineering has been going on for decades in plain view in the form of aerosol spraying. The unfortunate choice of “chemtrails” to describe this assault on our skies and weather has been used to label it as just another “conspiracy theory” by those who wish to deny it’s existence. One of the best sources of information is http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org. I encourage everyone to invest a couple of hours on this site to educate yourselves about this very real and dangerous human intervention.

  16. Mike says:

    So the pope believes what scientists tell him even though they say there is no God which makes him somewhat of a hypocrite. He says we’re all to blame, lovely. I wonder how much he is to blame living in his big castle and jetting around the world?

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