Are the churches speaking out at all?

“Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity,” says the declaration at the end of the early May Vatican summit, The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, . “In this core moral space, the world’s religions play a very vital role.”

Vatican watchers and climate experts say the meeting shows that Pope Francis is − in marked contrast to his predecessors − keen for the Catholic church to be more involved in the climate change issue, and is also urging other religions to become more actively engaged.

The papal encyclical on the environment is due to be published this summer. It is said to be complete and is in the process of translation. Pope Francis has said over the two years since his election that he believes climate change is caused by human action. So It is expected that the encyclical will call for much stronger environmental protection, including limits on greenhouse gas emissions. A poll carried out on behalf of CAFOD (the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England/Wales) found that between 72 and 80 percent of Catholics feel that we should care for God’s creation and that we have a moral obligation to protect the world’s poorest people (many of whom are, or will be impacted by climate change). The papal encyclical will be published ahead of the December meeting in Paris of global leaders and hopefully will have an impact on the decisions agreed there.

Christopher Lindley


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