Encyclical From Pope Francis Welcomed as Global Call to Arms

Addressing “every person on the planet” in a groundbreaking encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis speaks frankly and passionately about the “global environmental deterioration” of “our common home,” appealing “for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.”

Pope Francis expressed the hope that his first solo encyclical, released June 18, “can help us to acknowledge…the immensity and the urgency of the challenge we face,” because “if present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us.” But it will hit the poor hardest, since many of them live in areas particularly affected by climate warming. Like the prophets of old, Francis warns that the situation “will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption.”

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His encyclical leaves little doubt: climate change is happening; it is mainly the result of human activity; and it is up to all people of good will to do something about it. “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all,” Francis writes.

The spirituality of the saint whose name he has taken as pope, St. Francis of Assisi, is the soul of the encyclical. It is this profound spirituality that gives the encyclical real power in generating a true conversion on the environment.

Explaining what this conversion entails, Francis says it is morally imperative that humankind take responsibility for what it is doing, act to slow down and reverse the trends and make every effort to prevent further damage. He says this requires a change of heart and lifestyles and establishing new ways of producing, distributing and consuming.

“Laudato Si’” encourages families, religious and church communities and civic organizations each to play a part in caring for “our common home.”

His experience in Latin America taught Pope Francis to view critically the underpinnings of the global economy. He observes that “economic powers continue to justify the current global system, where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment.” He underlines the fact that “environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked.”

In “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis warns that “humanity has entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads.” Never before “has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used.” The first pope from the global south urges everyone “to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” and to respond with action.

Despite the many challenges, Francis remains confident change is possible because “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.”

The pope takes note of the so-far “weak international political responses” to climate change and remarks that “the failure of global summits on the environment make plain…too many special interests and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.” He has positioned his encyclical to have maximum impact during upcoming world summits in New York and Paris, where “Laudato Si’” may serve as a global wake-up call before it is too late.

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Alex Finta
2 years 5 months ago
It would take more space than the editors would permit to detail even a few of the many errors in this ignorant encyclical. The fundamental one should be enough. The committee – not the Pope – who wrote this nonsense repeatedly claim to care for “a variety of opinions” about the supposed “climate crisis”. “No branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out … this Encyclical welcomes dialogue with everyone.” A nice sentiment, but pure hypocrisy. I was one of many Catholics who donated a few dollars for members of the Heartland Institute to travel to Rome, in a vain hope, that facts – not just opinions – contradicting the assertions of a “crisis” might be heard. They were not. In contradiction to Francis's assertion that he wants “to encourage an honest and open debate”, the scientists we sent were not just not listened to, they were insulted, ridiculed, and accused of being paid liars hired by the fossil-fuel industry. The same sort of language appears within the encyclical: “...obstructionist attitudes... from denial of the problem to indifference.” This comes from a pope who admits “...the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. “ No “divergent views” on climate change or the many other topics raised, such as free markets or the benefits of technology were permitted in this one-sided screed. For the record, satellite observations tell us there has been NO global warming for more than 18 years; the IPCC agrees with this. There has been NO increase of severe weather for more than 18 years; the IPCC agrees. Had Francis followed his own advice, he'd have learned how much of the “science” in the encyclical” is just plain wrong – often, stupidly so. Carbon dioxide, which we all exhale, is “carbon pollution”? I note that next Sunday begs me for the annual “Peter's Pence.” No way, Pope. Get it from the UN you now serve.
Kevin Clarke
2 years 5 months ago

Science and stuff: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

And isn't the hiatus a bit of a red herring any way you slice it?

See summary of arguments here: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-no-global-warming-hiatus-noaa-20150603-story.html

Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 5 months ago
Libertarian's sole solution to any issue is more profit. Society has more than one dimension. Failures to grasp beyond profit perhaps fueled the spread of Marxist socialism.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 5 months ago
Society, like any other investor, wants a return on its investment. When seven billion people have little to show for their investment besides a few billionaires, it's time to find another investment.
Jacqueline O'Brien
2 years 5 months ago
I beg a calm moment to shift the focus away from "human-caused" or "climate cycle" points of contention, towards what faith asks of us in order to be in community with each other: an understanding of resources, interdependencies, and the benefits of sustainable living, particularly for water and soil, two of our most precious resources. As a popular cartoon asked 8 years ago "What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?" asks a Climate Summit attendee, while facing a bulletin board listing the benefits of a more sustainable future: "Energy Independence, Preserved Rainforests, Green Jobs, Livable Cities, Renewables, Clean Water and Air, Healthy Children, Etc., Etc." You can view this question as one driven by scientific evidence, or, you can view it as a question of social and environmental ethics, void of climate change data. "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me" and the Golden Rule, which guides ethical behavior ought to lead to a similar place of understanding that there is no real separateness. For the cartoon, see 091207usatoday global warming.91.
Alex Finta
2 years 5 months ago
The "least of our brethren" are trying to live on less than $1/day, Ms. O'Brien. That is a very real separateness, caused by the lack of fossil-fuel energy and lack of a market economy - which the Argentine Ignoramus wishes to perpetuate. The West began to emerge from a subsistence economy in 1776, when James Watt perfected the steam engine, Adam Smith published "Wealth of Nations", and the American colonists published the Declaration of Independence. I sympathize with the wish for a calm moment. Four million children die each year of pulmonary disease, caused by the air pollution and smoke inside their homes, from cooking fires of wood and dung. It is not the skeptics, like me, who are tired of the "Precautionary principle" - to do nothing, lest it be wrong. " You can view this question as one driven by scientific evidence, or, you can view it as a question of social and environmental ethics, void of climate change data." Well, you can view it in a myriad of ways, but only one way is right: THIS IS A SCIENTIFIC QUESTION, TO BE SETTLED BY THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD, BASED ON OBSERVATIONAL DATA. Unfortunately, Pope Francis and his Pontifical Academy know nothing of the Scientific Method, and are wandering in a never-neverland of wishful thinking.
John Hess
2 years 5 months ago
Alex, referring to Pope Francis as the "Argentine Ignoramus" is an angry cheap shot that undercuts any point you think you are making. Honestly, I believe the source of your anger is that the scientific consensus is contrary to what you find comforting to believe. I wish you well, so for you own good, please remember that temperance is a cardinal virtue.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 5 months ago
See comment below.
J Cosgrove
2 years 5 months ago
Bjorn Lomborg has studied the issues of global warming and poverty for years. They are really not related issues but that does not mean one doesn't want to deal with both. Because poverty has nothing to do with global warming, the solutions to one will probably not help solve the other. And solving one could exacerbate the other. Here are two recent articles by Lomborg on this topic" http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/06/16/pope-francis-climate-change-poverty-column/71241024/ http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/opinion/pope-francis-so-right-and-so-wrong-in-encyclical-on-climate-change/story-fni0ffsx-1227406509270 Here is his website http://www.lomborg.com

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