In an address on the south lawn of the White House, Pope Francis spoke pointedly about the need to combat climate change. It quickly became evident that he was ignoring the warnings of Republican climate deniers when the pontiff lauded Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon emissions. He followed that up by criticizing climate change deniers for failing in their duty to protect our “common home”.
Republican’s fear of the Pontiff’s environmental message is entirely justified. The spiritual leader of more than 70 million American Catholics directly attacked the GOP’s resistance to climate action. The Pope said that he believed this was a moral issue and he went further calling efforts to combat climate change a moral imperative for all Americans.
Barack Obama introduced the welcoming ceremony saying that this was a moment to, “shake our conscience from slumber”.
“Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” the Pope said. “Mr President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution.”
The Pope made it clear that politicians have responsibilities to the planet, to children and to the underprivileged who are most at risk from climate change.
The pontiff quoted from the Bible and from the US Constitution. He even invoked the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King when he said, “we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.”
“We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us.” the pontiff stated. “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.”
President Obama thanked the Pope for his remarks saying, “Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us..We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.”