The Pope’s Encyclical: Human Selfishness Blamed for Global Warming

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Leaders of the Catholic Church in America took their orders from the Pope’s encyclical (a letter laying out official Catholic doctrine) on Thursday, 18 June, to push Congress and the White House for action on climate change. American church leaders rejected accusations from some conservatives–including the Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, who is Catholic—that the Pope had trespassed into the political realm. Overall, within the U.S. the Pope’s call for climate action brought an outpouring of support from religious leaders, environmental, social justice and public health groups, scientists and Democrats. More Americans trust Pope Francis than almost any other world or U.S. leader as a source of information on global warming, according to a survey conducted by Yale University and George Mason University.

The encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, makes explicit the connection between climate change and oppression of the poorest and most vulnerable. It’s well argued, at times quite moving, and is 42,000 words long (!). Pope Francis blames human selfishness for global warming and urges the rich to change their lifestyles to avert the destruction of the ecosystem. Environmentalists hope the message will spur on nations ahead of the UN climate conference in Paris in December. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the document, saying climate change was a "moral issue requiring respectful dialogue with all parts of society".

Developing countries are demanding firmer promises of financial help from rich countries so they can adapt to inevitable changes in the climate and get clean energy to avoid contributing to further warming. The encyclical will be welcomed by poor countries in Africa and Latin America. The Pope is also encouraging businesses to look at how they operate, and say to themselves, 'Are we operating for the common good or just for profit?' Undoubtedly, having such an important person as the Pope talking about this issue will reach a lot of people at a crucial time.

The Pontiff has called for practical steps like recycling and improving public transportation. He said structural injustices require more political will and sacrifices than most societies seem willing to bear. Nothing short of a "bold cultural revolution" could save humanity from spiralling into self-destruction, the Pope warned. Our care for the environment is intimately connected to our care for each other, he argues, and we are failing miserably at both. "We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social," Francis writes, "but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental."

I leave you with this question from the Pope, which is at the heart of the document: "What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?" Pope Francis believes that unless mankind struggles with the deeper issues of human concern for ecology, no significant results will be produced.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons