Pope Francis released an encyclical today today warning of the environmental, social and moral consequences of climate change — saying that countries with resources have an obligation to help vulnerable nations by cutting down on fossil fuels and ramping up sustainable policies. Francis was uncompromising, calling climate change “one of the principle challenges facing humanity in our day.”
Catholics and non-Catholics alike are celebrating the encyclical. Emma Pinter, head of Colorado Moms Know Best, commended Francis and his work “to ensure our kids have clean air to breathe when they’re playing outside.”
“As a Catholic, I believe we have a moral obligation to protect the health of all people and be faithful stewards of Creation,” said Robin O’Dorisio, another mom with the group, citing the need to care for children and families no matter where on the globe they live.
Our polluted earth is like a messy home, according to Francis’ metaphor describing the effects of climate change: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish…”
Dulce Saenz, organizing program director at Conservation Colorado, agrees that cleaning up our home is a moral obligation. She lauded “the extraordinary leadership of a respected world figure that transcends borders and ideology to advocate for the globe’s most pressing issue.” She called the encyclical “a changing point in the world’s perception of climate change as a global concern and responsibility, not a political issue.”
But climate change remains a political issue. Catholic Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum and possible candidates Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal could find themselves in an awkward position, trying to reconcile their climate-change-denying politics with their faith.
Corrections: June 6, 2015: The original version of this story misspelled Robin O’Dorisio’s last name.
June 7, 2015: The original version of this story incorrectly gendered Dulce Saenz as a man. Saenz is a woman.
Photo credit: Republic of Korea, Creative Commons, Flickr.