Pope Francis, leader of the world’s one billion plus Catholics, has decided to make climate change one of the primary focuses of his evangelical efforts in 2015. After making good progress in his cleanup of Vatican politics and banking during the first couple of years on the job, Francis is now turning his attention to global issues including financial reform, climate change and improving U.S.-Cuba relations.
Climate change is primary item on the pope’s 2015 agenda
According to Vatican sources, in 2015 the pope will issue a string message on climate change to Catholics, give an address to the UN general assembly and call a summit of the world’s main religions.
The pope has decided to undertake all these activities, says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, because he wants to directly influence the critical UN climate meeting in Paris next year, when global nations will try to finalize 20 years of difficult negotiations with an across the board commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
“Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions,” Sorondo explained in an interview with Cafod, the Catholic development agency. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion.”
Francis is scheduled to visit Tacloban, the Philippine city nearly destroyed in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, next March. Sources say that during the visit, the pope will publish an encyclical on climate change and human ecology. He will make a speech encouraging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, and the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests for distribution to parishioners.
The sources also note that Francis will meet other faith leaders and politicians at the general assembly in New York in September, to encourage all nations to sign on to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.
Recent statement from pope on climate change
The pope spoke at a meeting of Latin American and Asian landless peoples and social causes in October of this year: “An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it. The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands. The monopolising of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness,” he said.