Pope Francis has done a lot to reshape the imagery of the Catholic Church, and while he’s still got a long way to go, few will deny that the first Jesuit Pope has done more good than his predecessor.
Now, the pope who took his name to honor Francis of Assisi is setting his sights on one of the biggest potential existential threats to human civilization (after, or perhaps, next too, rampant income inequality): Climate change.
The Guardian reports that in 2015, the pope is going to “issue a lengthy message on the subject” of climate change to Catholics worldwide, while addressing the UN general assembly on the matter. The pope also plans to call a summit of the world’s major religions, attempting to organize a response. And the reason?
According to Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, the chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the pope wants to directly influence next year’s crucial UN climate meeting in Paris. The meeting is crucial because it’s the close of nearly 20 years of negotiations with a universal commitment to reduce carbon emissions.
Speaking to a Catholic development agency, Cafod, Bishop Sorondo said that:
Our academics supported the pope’s initiative to influence next year’s crucial decisions 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.
For those wondering why the people would work as hard as he is to influence the governments, it makes sense when you consider his push against income inequality and poverty: like everything in the Social Darwinist world of modern capitalism, those hurt the most by climate change are those at the bottom of the social food chain. The rich won’t feel the effects of climate change until the impoverished are beating down their door, armed with torches, pitch-forks, and mobile guillotines.
Following a visit in March to Tacloban, a city in the Philippines devastated in 2012 by supertyphoon Haiyan, the pope plans to publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology, urging Catholics to act on moral and scientific grounds. Francis also plans to meet with other faith leaders and lobby politicians at the general assembly in New York in September. The countries plan to gather then to discuss and sing up to new anti-poverty and environmental goals.
Naturally, this is not at all well-received by political right-wing, especially in the United States, where the Golden Calf of Wall Street says, “worship me” and right-wing American Christians say, “Yes master.” Catholic climate change deniers in the United States include such storied and educated folks as John Boehner and Rick Santorum, among others.
Criticism hasn’t been the sole purview of stupid Americans, though; there are plenty of stupid Australians, too. Cardinal George Pell, a former archbishop of Sydney who was placed in charge of the Vatican’s budget, is also a climate change denier. Like all deniers, he love strawmen, and in the past has claimed that if atmospheric carbon dioxide doubled, “plants would love it.”
Back in the United States, Francis is opposed by right-wing Evangelicals, as well. A spokesman for the
Weyland-Yutani Responsible Resources Management Division Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, conservative Calvin Beisner, said the pope should “back off” and that he’s been “misled by science.” The Cornholio Alliance has already declared the United States environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and “a false religion,” so I’m sure his opinion is unbiased and based on scientific fact. He went on to add that, “It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”
Since this is a climate change article, here’s a link to the NASA homepage on climate change, so you can wow your climate change denying relatives with deep the conspiracy goes.