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Newsmaker: Pope Francis wades into the climate-change wars

The Pope’s speech asks the whole world to listen to his pleas about climate change—and even invites Naomi Klein to Rome to help


 
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis is poised to move the Roman Catholic Church, in the cause of socio-economic justice, into the thick of the climate-change wars. Even if the final text of his encyclical Laudato Si or “Praised Be” (from a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi), set to be released by the Vatican on June 19, differs in some details from the version that was leaked this week, the overall direction is clear. Indeed, the press conference set for that day will feature, among others, Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and Canadian activist Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate. The presence of Klein, a non-Catholic, also signals Francis’s belief that response to the potential effects of climate change is not only a matter of Catholic faith and morality. “Faced with the global deterioration of the environment, I want to address every person who inhabits this planet,” runs the leaked version of Laudato Si.

Related: Naomi Klein on climate change and capitalism

The encyclical asserts that global warming is real and overwhelmingly man-made. What stands in the way of a solution to a crisis that threatens hundreds of millions, particularly in the poorer parts of the world, is human attitudes, including “the violence that exists in the human heart,” the pontiff wrote. “We have grown up thinking that we were owners and dominators [of the Earth], authorized to loot her.” Neither denial of what is coming nor “blind faith in technical solutions” such as carbon credits will provide much help, Francis continues. What is required is a massive change in lifestyle and technology transfers from the developed to the developing world.

Given Francis’s sky-high popularity, particularly among Catholics in the developing world, the Pope’s forthright encyclical was widely seen as momentous. Some right-wing voices in the U.S. reacted with hostility—many referring to “a war on capitalism”—for the same reason environmental activists seeking to bolster the international climate negotiations set for Paris in December welcomed the Pope’s words. Francis might “reach people who haven’t thought about this,” according to Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a non-profit group that works with more than 100 companies with investments totalling $13 trillion to address climate risks to their business.

As for Klein, the encyclical is part “of the huge shift in the level of engagement in the issue” she says she has seen in the last few years. “I’m going to the Vatican,” Klein says, with a note of surprise in her voice, “to share a press conference with Cardinal Turkson. That’s something I never thought I’d say—so something is definitely changing.”


 

Newsmaker: Pope Francis wades into the climate-change wars

  1. I am as swayed by the Pope’s pronouncement on man-made global climate change as I would be swayed by a climatologist’s pronouncement on original sin or Obama pontificating about how to create jobs. None of them have the credentials necessary to provide a cogent argument and they shouldn’t be wading into those discussions. I would think the good Pope has enough problems within his area of expertise to keep him fully occupied without forays into areas such as this, that is, unless the Pope feels there is a direct connection between climate change and pedafilia.

  2. I tire of people fighting over Climate Change. For me, it is no longer important whether it is true or not, what matters is what happens if it is true and we ignore it. The end result of ignoring it will be a catastrophe for mankind.

    Now, if Climate Change is not true, and we prepare for it, what happens? We end up with a cleaner world to live in. It might be a more expensive world too but we will end up with something better.

    So, I am glad the Pope is taking a stand on climate-change.

  3. Why doesn’t he talk to his boss about the climate change BS. I thought he (the boss) could do anything.

  4. Goose stepping, bible thumping, fear mongering climate blame “believers” telling our kids it’s the END OF DAYS!
    History is cursing you freaks already.

  5. Fear mongering, bible thumping, planet loving climate blame “believers”? Too funny!

    ALGORE is my shepherd; I shall not think.

    He maketh me lie down in his snow laden pastures:

    He leadeth me beside his still-freezing waters.

    He selleth my soul for CO2.

    He leadeth me in his path of his self-righteousness for his own sake.

    And yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of reason,

    I shall fear all logic for Gore art with me and thinking for me.

    Thy Gore family oil fortune and thy 10,000 square ft. Gore mansion, they comfort me.

    Thou preparest a movie in the presence of contradictory evidence.

    Thou anointest mine head with nonsense, my mindless conformity runneth over.

    Surely blind faith and hysteria shall follow me all the days of the rest of my life,

    And I shall dwell in the house of ALGORE forever.

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