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Our common home: Pope’s environmental encyclical leaked

Our common home: Pope’s environmental encyclical leaked

Cathy Lynn Grossman, writing for Religion News Service and published in Crux, reports on the leaking of a draft of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, to be released officially on Thursday, in which he states that climate change exists, is caused by humans and is having its most devastating effects on the poor.

The story includes an overview of the recent Pew study which shows Catholics divided by political lines when it comes to views on climate change:

Pew Research’s survey of 5,122 adults, including 1,016 self-identified Catholics, finds that most overall (68 percent) say they “believe the Earth is warming” and a majority of Catholics of all parties agree (71 percent).

But there’s a 34-percentage-point gap between Catholic Democrats (85 percent agree) and Republicans (51 percent agree), with independents landing in between at 72 percent.

Among Americans overall, the report says: “Belief that global warming is occurring is nearly twice as common among Democrats as Republicans (86 percent vs. 45 percent). The view that global warming is caused by human activity is roughly three times as common among Democrats as among members of the GOP (64 percent vs. 22 percent), as is the view that it represents a very serious problem (67 percent vs. 21 percent).”

The Pope will visit the United States for the first time in September, and plans to address Congress on environmental concerns.

Laudato Si‘, on the Care of Our Common Home” — the title of the encyclical — is not like papal statements on issues such as sexuality, marriage, and the death penalty. Those are matters where US Catholics often break with their Church.

This time, the pope and his flock are more in sync, said political scientist John Green, who has seen the Pew findings. He speculated that pushing environmental stewardship as a moral cause to aid the poor could drive people to action.

Still, said Green: “Even through he is immensely popular, it will be a real problem to change American attitudes on climate change. It is one of the issues that defines the partisan divide across the country.”

A Washington Post story includes translations of a number of sections of the leaked draft, which will likely go through more changes before Thursday. The Pope writes:

The document associates polluted environments with global inequality. “I’d like to point out that the problems that hit harder at those who are excluded are often not very clear. They are the majority of those who live on the planet, they’re billions of people. They get mentioned during international political and economic debates, but their problems are mostly introduced as an addendum, something you add almost out of duty or as something peripheral.­ . . . But today we can’t avoid stating that a true ecological approach must always become a social approach, integrating justice in the debate around environment, so that we listen to the cry of Earth as much as we listen to the one of the poor.”

Does the Pope have an opportunity to effect real change in environmental policy? What does “dominion” over the earth mean for Christians?

Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett

 

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Gary Paul Gilbert

This is the same Vatican which denounces marriage equality as an assault on nature. The text, after all, cites Benedict on the human family.

Same text with correction.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Gary Paul Gilbert

This is the same Vatican which denounces marriage equality as an assault on nature. The text, after all, citess Benedict on the human family.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Bill Simpson

The text of Pope Francis’s letter is available here:
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

What jumps out at the reader is the Pope’s readiness to link environmental health and economic justice and to work out how these are really two sides of the same coin. In the encyclical environmental degradation, like poverty, is a symptom of the same core unhealthiness that has its roots in how humanity, particularly affluent societies in the Northern Hemisphere, deal with wealth.

Personally, I never thought I’d see a world leader stating the problem so bluntly.

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