Pope Francis has been widely praised by world leaders, scientists and others for issuing an unprecedented moral and ethical call to action on global warming in a letter released Thursday, which was addressed to “every person living on the planet.”
The document, known in the Catholic Church as an “encyclical” or papal letter to bishops, was the first such document ever issued on the environment. It adds a crucial component to climate discussions in the run-up to a potentially decisive round of United Nations climate talks in Paris five months from now.
The encyclical got many things right. Yes, the climate is warming. Yes, poor nations are already suffering more from this problem than rich countries, which is inherently unfair, given that emissions from the industrialized world are causing the problem in the first place.
Global Climate Change
The Vatican has unveiled Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on climate change, urging world leaders to pay their “grave social debt” to the poor and take swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin. Pope Francis calls for a change of lifestyle in rich countries steeped in a “throwaway” consumer culture, and an end to “obstructionist attitudes” that sometimes put profit before the common good. In a nearly, 200-page document, the pope writes: “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.” Presenting the encyclical, a Vatican official said it should encourage the merging of environmental consciousness with spiritual teachings.
John Zizioulas: “As it emerges clearly from the encyclical, the ecological crisis is essentially a spiritual problem. The proper relationship between humanity and the Earth or its natural environment has been broken with the fall both outwardly and within us, and this rupture constitutes what we call sin. The church must now introduce in its teaching about sin the sin against the environment, the ecological sin. Repentance must be extended to cover also the damage we do to nature both as individuals and as societies.”
Global Climate Change