While Pope Francis is not the first pope to address environmental concerns he is the first to embark on a global campaign with lofty ambitions that include influencing the outcome at COP21 later this year in Paris. Pope Benedict XVI and John Paul II, spoke about the environment and “creation”, but unlike his predecessors Pope Francis has made climate change the focus of his efforts. The recently released encyclical is highly critical of capitalism and advocates nothing short of a revolution.
It is no coincidence that the pope chose Francis of Assisi the patron saint of animals, as his namesake at the start of his papacy in 2011. The pope claimed that he shares values with the 12th century Franciscan monk.
The pope’s call to action in his encyclical starts by saying that, “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years.” While his point of view is informed by science, Francis makes it clear that we have a moral duty to do a far better job of stewarding the Earth.
The pope is not focusing his efforts on Catholics he is looking to have maximum impact and as such he want to reach everyone.
Starting on July 1, the Vatican will host a number of events surrounding the encyclical. The pope plans to meet with President Obama and address Congress later this year. He also is scheduled to address the UN general assembly on September 23rd.
The encyclical and all of his meetings lead up to the much vaunted COP21 climate talks that will take place in Paris at the end of the year. By being such a vocal proponent of climate action the pontiff hopes to be able to improve the chances of securing a global emissions reduction agreement this year.
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