Pope Francis, well on his way on becoming the most popular and moderate pope in recent history, is preparing to publish an encyclical on ecology and climate change, urging the world to stop turning their backs on nature. The document is expected to be released in time to be read before the next round of U.N. climate treaty talks in Paris at the end of the year. Of course, Pope Francis’ rather frequent commentaries concerning climate change, toppled by his much anticipated encyclical, has angered climate change skeptics. Critics have been quick to voice that the pope is using religion to front a radical environmental agenda.
An encyclical was originally a circular letter sent to all the churches of a particular area in the ancient Roman Church. The letter is sent by the pope with the intent of being circulated among the bishops of the world, or a particular part of the world. The encyclicals (circulars) provide instructions that are usually intended for the clergy, the Catholic faithful or other “men of good will” outside the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis has long been an advocate of environmentalism and has asserted on more than one occasion that climate change is real.
“I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” he said last week.
The pope is no scientist, though, so don’t expect the encyclical to be consumed far too long with scientific analysis or the likes.
“It’s not an easy issue because on the protection of creation and the study of human ecology, you can speak with sure certainty up to a certain point then come the scientific hypotheses some of which are rather sure, others aren’t,” Francis said at a news conference last August. “In an encyclical like this that must be magisterial, it must only go forward on certainties, things that are sure.”
In fact, it’s rather sketchy what the document will contain. What we know so far is that it’s in its third draft and under review by the Vatican orthodoxy guardian, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, along with the Vatican Secretary of State’s office and the pope’s own theologian. According to Pope Francis, the document is expect to be released in June or July of this year.
He’s not the first pope to voice his concerns over global warming or to engage in environmental activism. John Paul II and Benedict XVI who have also pointed that climate change is undergoing trough a crisis and measure need to be taken. During his speech from 1990, pope John Paul the 2nd state that catholics were obliged by the nature of their religion to protect the planet as it is God’s creation. As for Pope Benedict, he has remained in the memory of man as the “Green Pope” because of is frequent public interventions against deforestation and other world wide environmental troubles. Pope Benedict also installed solar panels at the Vatican. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, is also a prominent Christian figure who often voices environmental concerns.
Over the ocean, in America however the Pope’s strong environmental stand didn’t bear well with conservatives. Steve Moore, stated for The Heritage that the pope’s policy is a total disaster, since his environment views but also the ones on the economy will just make things worse with people being poorer with less liberty. A blogger from the Catholic journal website, First Things, blamed Pope Francis for using religious propaganda in favor of the so-called “climate change theory”.