Pope Francis Takes Stance on Climate Change: “For the care of Creation”

In June, Pope Francis sent a 184-page encyclical to all bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. In it, he bridges the gap between science and religion, highlighting the importance of acting immediately on climate change. The letter draws not only on scientific evidence, but encourages a worldwide shift in moral values in order to combat global warming. You can read the letter yourself here.

A Prayer for the Environment

With the publishing of Pope Francis ’ encyclical last June, the Vatican has taken its first ever stance on climate change: essentially, that climate change is a global reality—one that we must act on immediately in order to preserve the safety of future generations.
Climate change, according to the Pope, is

“the principle challenge facing humanity today.”

The letter expresses the Pope’s concerns regarding the myriad of health risks that humanity faces on a daily basis due to global warming—especially the harm that pollution has been increasingly causing every day, resulting in

“millions of premature deaths.”

Fighting Climate Change is Our Moral Duty

While the Pope does draw from much scientific evidence to explain the hard evidence of climate change on a global scale—pointing to rising sea levels, toxic air pollution and the endangerment of thousands of species due to human intervention, to name a few—he claims that a shift in our moral understanding is the key component to winning the fight against climate change.

The encyclical states that the introduction of new technology as a way to combat global warming has proved to be ineffective overall. Instead, Pope Francis claims that the challenge of combating climate change isn’t about finding the right technology to do the job, but about accepting full responsibility for the environment’s poor shape, and taking the right steps to start actively helping to fix it. According to the Pope, climate change is something that all of us are equally responsible for, and is a fight that we are all morally obligated to participate in.

According to Katharine Hayhoe of the Climate Science Research Center at Texas Tech University, this virtually untouched argument against climate change from a spiritual and moral standpoint may help encourage more people to fight against global warming than all of the scientific data discussed at length in the last 30 years. The shift from explaining cold and overused scientific data to further the argument against climate change to one that explores the inner self and its relation to the worldwide disaster is something that could gain much political and social traction.

A Prayer for the Environment

Pope Francis has already started to take his own advice, calling for an international environmental treaty from the United Nations—a plan he is eager to present to the UN himself upon his visit of the US in September. Hopefully, the UN climate talks in Paris this upcoming December will prove to be less lackluster than usual, as most politicians are yet to take environmental issues very seriously.

This is part of a five-day visit to the US, during which he will visit three cities: New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. He is first scheduled to visit Philadelphia, where he will attend the World Meeting of Families, and is expected to host mass. He also plans to meet and talk to President Obama and Congress in Washington DC, and visit the 9/11 memorial in New York City, before presenting his plan for climate change to world leaders at the UN. You can see the Pope’s travel schedule here.

Pope Francis has announced September 1st to be a day dedicated to praying for the environment—or as he puts it,

“for the care of Creation.”

Atmoph gleams with an environmentally beautiful world: