Yesterday, NPR did a story on Pope Francis’s soon-to-go-public encyclical which is rumored to make an official statement confirming that climate change is, indeed, real and man-made. Named after the the patron saint of the environment, St. Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis has stated that this issue will be one of the most important challenges of humanity. The Pope’s support of eco-justice is bringing the sustainability movement into mainstream for Catholics and others who view the Pope as a guide for morality.
I personally, as a secular appreciator of religion, have immense respect for Pope Francis. When he was named to the papacy, I was studying in Ecuador where the population is almost 90% Catholic. My host family was dancing with joy as the first Latino pope emerged from the Vatican. His background as an Argentinian chemist and then a catholic leader provides a perspective that has yet to claim the papal throne. He clearly sees the inequity in our world and has a goal to fix it with the word and blessing of his God.
His acknowledgment of climate change is just another step in the right direction to encourage people to recognize this pressing problem facing every human on Earth. Additionally, his declaration affirming man-made contributions to climate change will spur action among his followers. It will have the power to influence the consumption of Catholics, encouraging sustainable life-style changes that could have real impact on our planet. Rev. Thomas Reese, senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter says that,”Religion is one of the few things that can motivate people to self-sacrifice — to give up their own self-interest for something else.” One of the biggest challenges facing climate change is igniting changes to our societies that are now deeply ingrained in how we function as a global economy and people. The Pope reigns over more than 1/7 of the world’s population. His word matters and his recognition of this pressing problem should be considered a blessing.
Written by Brianna Johnson, ESLLC Program Coordinator
Update: I just found this USA Today article too! Check it out!