Friday, May 01, 2015

The Pope & Protecting the Earth

The word is that sometime this year Pope Francis will issue an encyclical on climate change and the environment. An encyclical is a papal letter circulated to bishops, often globally, and while it sounds simple an encyclical carries considerable weight. I have mentioned before that other popes have issued thoughtful statements on care for creation but this will be different.

In preparation, a meeting called Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development took place in Rome this week. It included speeches by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and leaders of the pontifical academies, along with panels on relevant scientific, moral and economic issues. Here is a paragraph from the statement released out of this gathering:

The Catholic Church, working with the leadership of other religions, can now take a decisive role by mobilizing public opinion and public funds to meet the energy needs of the poorest 3 billion people, thus allowing them to prepare for the challenges of unavoidable climate and eco-system changes. Such a bold and humanitarian action by the world’s religions acting in unison is certain to catalyze a public debate over how we can integrate societal choices, as prioritized under UN’s sustainable development goals, into sustainable economic development pathways for the 21st century, with projected population of 10 billion or more.

I admire the pope for this initiative and pray that it will make a difference. The deniers have been at work already, so many of them from conservative religious communities, including the theological right of the Roman Catholic church. I spoke with someone recently who mentioned the contempt of her former pastor for the notion of climate change. In the twisted logic, acting on behalf of our earthly home is a sign of unfaithfulness both to scripture and Christ's salvation promise. It is bizarre distortion of the Good News of Christ and, to my mind incarnation-denying and evil.

Thank you Francis. I trust we will be your partners in this important faith endeavour.


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