The start of a game-changing year

A day after a coalition of Catholics issued a statement supporting Church concerns over climate change, the game-changing Pope Francis made it clear in his strongest language to date where he stands on the matter.

"I don’t know if all [climate change is man-made], but 'mostly,' for the greater part, it is man who slaps nature in the face continually," the Vatican's official translation notes. The pontiff's statements were in answer to a question by Gerry O’Connell of America magazine.

Making direct references to biodiversity losses and monoculture practices used in agriculture, Pope Francis added "we have exploited nature too much ... when I heard the Brazilian bishops speak of the deforestation of the Amazonia, I ended up understanding well. Amazonia is the lungs of the world."

The pontiff later expressed disappointment in December’s Lima talks and gratitude “that today there are voices, so many people who are speaking out about" all these issues.

The comments were made on the trip from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, where Pope Francis will be visiting areas and people devastated in 2013 and last month by some of the strongest typhoons on record. The Holy Father’s words today and the visuals of him in storm-crushed landscapes will no doubt sway many in the pews who may not be sure what to think of climate change and who may not have been familiar with previous statements by Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

In the Philippines the pontiff will receive support from his eco-friendly host, Cardinal Luis Tagle, who will provide Pope Francis with a copy of the newly released Global Catholic Climate Movement statement along with a letter of introduction. The letter and statement, which is mostly from lay members of the Church, were delivered to Cardinal Tagle at about 5:00 p.m. Manila time and will be given to the pope sometime during his stay.

Meanwhile, the aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales announced that its Executive Secretary Father Edwin Gariguez will also be presenting a letter to the Pope asking him to address the issue of climate change. In the letter, Father Gariguez calls attention to the Philippines being at the top of the list of countries worst hit by weather-related disasters.

It's only January, and already 2015 is a game changer—the year the Catholic Church forever elevated the global conversations of climate change and all ecological issues. And this is all before the issuance of the much-expected eco-encyclical, which the pontiff said today could come out sometime in June or July after a period of translations from a final document, which is expected to be complete in March.

So stay tuned for even more climate and eco news as this papal trip and the year continue.

But for now, two steps you can take to support the pontiff is to sign the St. Francis Pledge and add your name to the statement of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

And why not? It’s your planet. Now it’s your move.

Photo: Flicker/Catholic Church (England and Wales)

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.