Pope Francis May Tip the Balance in Climate Change Debate: Should Skeptics Worry?
Pope Francis is again taking a bold stance on a sensitive issue. This time, it involves something that had representatives of nations from all over the world convening in Lima, Peru last month.
Word is out that the head of the Roman Catholic Church will soon urge its 1.2 billion members worldwide to act on climate change, with the Pope anticipated to issue an encyclical this year that will tackle the issue of global warming and human ecology.
In January, the Pope is scheduled to visit Tacloban City, Philippines, which was devastated by typhoon Haiyan in 2013, and will likely take the chance to publish the encyclical.
The document, which will be given to 5,000 bishops and 400,000 priests for distribution to their parishioners, will direct Catholics to take action on climate change on scientific and moral grounds.
Pope Francis will also meet with other religious leaders and politicians at a general assembly in New York later this year when countries will commit to new antipoverty and environmental goals.
Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences chancellor of the Vatican, said that the reason behind these activities is that the Pope wanted to directly influence the UN climate meeting, which will be held in Paris, France this year. The summit aims to achieve a universal commitment among countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gas in order to limit the increase in global temperature to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
"Our academics supported the Pope's initiative to influence next year's crucial decisions," Sorondo said. "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."
While the Pope's call for environmental action may not change the mind of skeptics, including Catholic politicians who have been resisting government efforts to reduce the emission of carbon, the Pope's call to action on a warming world could have a significant impact worldwide, given the church's influence and because it is known to be one of the biggest consumers of energy.
With its network of hospitals, schools, parish centers, seminaries and other institutions, the Church spends billions for its energy use. The Pope's position on climate change could lead to installations of renewable energy sources, such as solar systems in establishments and institutions that the Church has stakes in.