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Letter: Climate change and the Catholic Church

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Posted: Friday, June 19, 2015 11:43 pm

When I learned that Pope Francis was preparing a Papal encyclical on the topic of our endangered environment worldwide, I was encouraged that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, a man who has the ability to influence more than 1.2 billion Catholics, was taking a stand on the importance of this subject. An encyclical, in the modern sense, is a “brief” that deals with significant issues within the faith.

Today, the Vatican released Laudato Si’ (Praise Be), On the Care of Our Common Home. There are those who have been critical of Pope Francis for addressing this topic — specifically, several Republican presidential candidates who profess to be devout Catholics. One even had the audacity to state that the Pope “should stop talking about climate change” and “leave science to the scientists.” This same candidate comically stated, “I’m a huge fan of Pope Francis.” Seriously? A man who claims to be a devout Catholic says he is “a fan” of the head of his Church?

Pope Francis, however, is not the only pope to have addressed this issue. According to Dan DiLeo of the National Catholic Reporter, “Pope Benedict XVI addressed human-forced climate change in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, and in 2010 in his World Day of Peace Message. Pope Saint John Paul II also addressed climate change in 1990 and 1999. In 2009 and 2010, Benedict also offered support for an international, U.N.-brokered climate change agreement.” DiLeo also states that, “my colleagues at the Catholic Climate Covenant have worked tirelessly to share Catholic teaching on climate change with the U.S. church.”

So why is climate change a significant issue of faith and why is there Catholic teaching on this issue? Pope Francis states it simply: “If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith. It is good for humanity and the world at large when we believers better recognize the ecological commitments which stem from our convictions.”

Joanne DelSolar


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