His Holiness Pope Francis has called for a bold cultural revolution to correct what he described as a ‘structurally perverse’ economic system where the rich exploit the poor, turning Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”
He framed climate change as an urgent moral issue to address in his eagerly anticipated encyclical, blaming global warming on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the poor most.
Citing Scripture, his predecessors and bishops from around the world, the pope urged people of every faith and even no faith to undergo an awakening to save God’s creation for future generations.
In a rare open letter that will shape Catholic teaching, His Holiness Pope Francis laid out our moral imperative to “care for our common home” and end the inequalities, which are driving interlinked problems of climate change and poverty.
The document released last week was a stinging indictment of big business and climate doubters alike, aimed at spurring courageous changes at U.N. climate negotiations later this year, in domestic politics and in everyday life.
“It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress,” he writes. “Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster.
Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress.” Environmental scientists said the first-ever encyclical, or teaching document, on the environment could have a dramatic effect on the climate debate, lending the moral authority of the immensely popular Francis to an issue that has long been cast in purely political, economic or scientific terms.
“This clarion call should guide the world toward a strong and durable universal climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year,” said Christiana Figures, the U.N.’s top climate official.
“Coupled with the economic imperative, the moral imperative leaves no doubt that we must act on climate change now.” U.N. Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Achim Steiner in a statement said: “This encyclical is a clarion call that resonates not only with Catholics, but with all of the Earth’s peoples.
Science and religion are aligned on this matter: The time to act is now. “We share Pope Francis’ view that our response to environmental degradation and climate change cannot only be defined by science, technology or economics, but is also a moral imperative.
We must not overlook that the world’s poorest and most vulnerable suffer most from the changes we are seeing. Humanity’s environmental stewardship of the planet must recognise the interests of both current and future generations. “With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in September and a climate agreement in December, we have the opportunity to positively change the course of history, creating a better and more equitable world for all.