Pope Francis may have sought his initial influence from Saint Francis for his relationship with nature, but his renewed action is fueled by Catholics around the world acting for the climate today. With the scientific conclusion that humans are causing climate change and that we must act now, Catholic organizations are pressing the issue for moral obligation.
Dan DiLeo of our partner's Catholic Climate Covenant shared, “The climate crisis is an issue of unparalleled urgency.” Alas, faith leaders are not the only ones heeding the moral call to climate action as Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley of Yale University insists that Pope Francis’ climate encyclical must draw a closer connection between humankind and nature. A statement that further demonstrates the interconnection of faith communities and academics on issues of climate change.
The encyclical on the environment, which Pope Francis is expected to release in June or July, is stimulating a great deal of discussion and hope in academia and the environmental movement.
The pope wants to make the environment one of the signature issues of his papacy. As he explained to reporters three days after his election, one reason he took the name Francis was that St. Francis of Assisi is "the man who loves and protects creation."
Conservationists are hoping that the encyclical's attitude toward animals, especially wildlife, will reflect the spirit of St. Francis, according to Lonnie Ellis, associate director of Catholic Climate Covenant.
The encyclical is widely expected to give support to those who attribute climate change to human activity since the pope has already said he accepts this scientific conclusion.
Although popes are clearly not infallible when it comes to science, Francis is the first pope to have a modern scientific training: He was educated as a chemist and worked as one in Argentina before he entered the seminary.
Christiana Peppard of Fordham University said she hopes the encyclical will affirm that "contemporary science is a marvelous way of knowing the world and that it represents a collective, collaborative way of discerning important realities about the Earth that we share, and thus that there is zero justification for skepticism of climate change among Catholics."
"The climate crisis is an issue of unparalleled urgency," says Dan DiLeo of the Catholic Climate Covenant. "Scientists generally agree that there is a closing window of opportunity within which to avoid runaway and largely irreversible human-forced climate change."
But the encyclical will, of course, need to be about more than science.