For Pope Francis, climate change is a moral issue

Naderev Saño
'In line with the teachings of every major religion, he will urge leaders to protect [the poor] from environment-related devastation'

The climate change crisis is the defining issue of our generation, and we will be judged by future generations by how we respond to the climate crisis and leave them the legacy of a caring, just, safe, and peaceful world.

As such, it is enormously important that we look at climate change as a moral issue, more than an environmental and political issue.

Sitting at the heart of the climate crisis is a myriad of dysfunctions – economic, ecological, social, political – but most importantly spiritual.

In this light, it is ultimately crucial for our spiritual leaders to guide us in confronting the biggest challenge that the human family has ever faced. 

Pope Francis, in his role as the head of the Catholic flock, has proven to be a pope of the poor, and has lived an example of a true leader. He has become the epitome of spiritual strength, solidarity with other faiths, and hope for the exploited.

As he weighs in on this issue, it will be a powerful indictment of the kind of economic world order that has exploited the poor and the Earth. (READ: Pope urges world to stop climate change destruction)

‘Bringer of the message’

As Pope Francis reaffirms the reality of this madness called climate change, it will inspire billions of people. It will at the same time unsettle those who have long denied climate change as a reality because they profit from the very system that has bred this great injustice. 

The encyclical is as good as the bringer of the message. With Pope Francis as the messenger, it has the potential to dramatically change the way governments look at the overall development and climate change policy process and their own national imperatives.

There are 1.2 billion Catholics, and on top of that billions more who have become staunch supporters of Pope Francis’ transformational role.

If politicians will be politicians, they will heed the call of the encyclical even for utilitarian reasons, because a vast number of people will support it. 

And, of course, the encyclical will be powerful because it speaks for the masses, and the masses will rally behind it. What the encyclical offers is a message of great hope – hope that the current corrupt world order can be transformed. 

While we live in exciting times, and while I truly believe that the encyclical can move mountains, many governments are beholden to the darkest forces.

As such, even the holiest message from a holy leader may not effect the change we want to see immediately. The forces of darkness are vast and mighty. The greedy pursue power and profit by breaking rules. The good and the benevolent keep within the bounds of ethical lines. It is not a level playing field.

The key to getting governments to act is for all those who believe in the power of the good to overcome evil to join Pope Francis in this fight of our lives. The Pope will need our prayers, solidarity, and courage. We need to walk with him on this most important journey. 

The vulnerable, excluded

Consistent with the Christian ideal of serving the poor, Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized the vulnerability of the poor to climate crisis.

In line with the teachings of every major religion, he will urge leaders to protect from environment-related devastation those who have been “excluded” from the world economic system. 

Pope Francis has consistently criticized the current economic order as a greed-driven, “throw-away” system, in which the rich get richer and the poor poorer. The message will highlight the crucial fight against greed, and touch on the structural roots of poverty and social injustice.

We need to make sure that in every town and city around the world, people are sharing the incredible message of Pope Francis’ Encyclical in public, and the need for his words to turn into action this year. Vigils, marches, sit-ins, and prayers meetings – any way we can to make this as big as possible.

Given the critical importance of 2015, all faith leaders should do the same, urging world leaders to commit to halting the destructive trend represented by climate change and creating an authentically prosperous future for all.

We live here and only here. It’s our home. Our only one. We must protect it. –

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