On April 28, a conference was held at the Vatican concerning climate change and moral dimensions. The conference was hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and other organizations, and was referred to as “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development.” The conference was held to strengthen worldly accord to the issue. Alleviating climate change and acclimating to the effects is what is necessary to stop extreme poverty, reduce inequality and secure an equitable and sustainable economic development, according to Ban Ki Moon, the U.N. secretary general. Ki Moon continued, saying, “It is a moral issue. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics, climate change is the defining issue of our time.”
The Vatican has a goal to influence the U.N.’s Climate Change Conference in Paris. The conference will be held in December with the hopeful intent to unite the nations and put together legally-binding protocols to protect the Earth.
This organized effort is upsetting conservatives, especially conservative Catholics. Pope Francis is not the first pope to address the environment, but his plans have people talking. Pope Francis’ progressive ideas, along with his popularity with the laity, has presented a challenge that is being viewed as the pope moving from the theological to the political realm.
Pope Francis fully intends to address the issue of climate change, and Catholic conservatives are unhappy. The pope has prepared an encyclical for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, which asserts that global warming is caused by humans.
On April 27, a press conference was held in Rome, which conservatives used to condemn the pope’s point of view concerning the environment. At the press conference, Pope Francis was accused of degrading both his position and the Church for which he took an oath to defend, advance and protect, according to a former advisor for British Prime Minister Christopher Monckton. Monckton also says that he is a loyal Catholic, as well as a leader in the climate skeptic movement. He does not believe that the pope should take sides politically.
Pope Benedict stated at the 2010 World Day of Peace that, “If we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us.” While Benedict was pope, the pontifical Academy of Science issued a report strongly urging world leaders to prepare for the impact that would be created by climate change, and to cut emissions. Pope Benedict also put a number of green initiatives into action for Vatican City.
Pope Francis has a voice that reaches beyond any of his predecessors on many social issues. This is primarily due to his progressive attitude toward the oppressed and the poor worldwide. He has also shifted his pastoral tone toward GLBT and divorced Catholics. Therefore, his decree on the environment will have a greater influence.
Pope Francis’ moral authority has power that extends across the world. This will be an issue for conservatives. It creates an ironic problem, according to Father Morrill. He refers to what he calls, “cafeteria Catholics,” saying that much like a buffet, people pick and choose what to accept from what popes say, which includes any given education or teaching about climate change.
A statement given by Mr. Bast at the April 27 press conference claimed that humans are doing their Biblical duty protecting, and using, the Earth to benefit humanity. The climate change is not being caused by humans. He also said that Pope Francis would be doing the world and his followers an injustice by using his moral authority to back the United Nations on climate change.
By Jeanette Smith
Photo courtesy of LJ Pasion – Creativecommons Flickr License
Photo courtesy of .Entrer dans le reve – Creativecommons Flickr License