Pope Francis to tackle global warming, encyclical due in March
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Pope Francis is due to publish an encyclical he feels is so important it will be printed and distributed to parishioners in their pews. Pope Francis plans to publish his long awaited encyclical on the environment and he plans to tackle the issue of global warming head on.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This March, following a visit to the Philippines, Pope Francis will publish an encyclical on the environment that insiders say will tackle the issue of global warming head on. Pope Francis is hoping to have some impact when world leaders meet to discuss climate change in Paris next year.
The encyclical will have one definite impact in the United States - it will chagrin conservatives in the U.S. who generally believe that global warming is a hoax.
Pope Francis, and the Church itself, defy political labels. The Church is far higher than any political persuasion and is concerned with Truth, not political preferences.
The publication will be a reminder to American political conservatives that Pope Francis defies all attempt to label him as one thing or another. He is neither conservative, nor liberal, but he is Catholic.
The coming encyclical is informed by the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the world's single-longest running scientific mission. The institution has already affirmed that global warming is real and a threat to people around the world, especially in developing nations.
How to address the issue has been the sticking point, and the place where Church guidance is powerfully needed. Some conservatives argue that the best way to cope with climate change is to increase the pace of industrialization and development to generate the massive amounts of capital that experts anticipate we will need to effectively cope with the threat. The problem is the only way to harvest that capital is to tax the makers of wealth, something conservatives generally oppose.
Then, there is the problem of placing such capital in the hands of governments which are notorious for corruption and inefficiency.
Liberals, on the other hand, prefer to slow or even halt development in favor of "green" solutions. The moral issue is that these solutions can keep developing regions economically depressed, further entrenching poverty.
Neither solution appears practical from a moral standpoint without some kind of added guidance. It is easier to simply consign the issue to the dustbin of "myth" and stop thinking about it. However, unmistakable signs of global warming are emerging around the world. Sea level rise, melting ice caps, and other unusual, but generally predicted weather phenomena have been observed. And while the actual climate refuses to cooperate with climate change models and their dire predictions, the trend appears unmistakable.
The cause is also beyond doubt. Humans are dumping quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere faster than nature can absorb it, leading to global warming.
The most practical solution will be to find a way to reduce emissions while planting trees to absorb existing CO2 from the atmosphere, since CO2 also happens to be plant food.
However, finding the moral balance we need to strike between long and short term gains, between the dignity of individuals and the rights of others to generate a living through their labor, isn't a simple task. This is why the direction of Pope Francis and the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, will be so welcome by most of the world.
It is uncertain exactly what Pope Francis will say in his letter, but we can make an educated guess by evaluating his previous comments on the issue.
In October, Pope Francis explained:
"An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it.
"The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands.
"The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness."
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