This week, the pope’s encyclical on the challenge of climate change was leaked by the media. While the final version will be formally shared on June 18, the content of the draft is certainly indicative of the Pope’s tone in addressing this global issue. He acknowledges that most of climate change is caused by man’s actions, and calls on all people, regardless of religion, to share the responsibility of caring for the earth, “our common home“.
What is especially encouraging from this plea is the links Pope Francis draws between the economic culture of over-consumption and its impact on the poor. By framing this in both an economic and social justice context, the need to resolve this issue takes on greater significance. The document even specifically discourages the carbon credit model of offsetting greenhouse gas emissions, as it unfairly advantages wealthier nations and does not lead to an overall reduction in emissions.
The Vatican has said that the release of the encyclical was timed to have maximum impact on upcoming visits by the Pope to address the US Congress and the UN. Since the document clearly scolds climate change deniers, it will be interesting to see how American representatives who are both Catholic and vocal climate change deniers, respond to this position. When the Pope addresses congress later this year, we can certainly expect him to raise these issues. Your move, John Boehner.