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article imageCatholic Church and Pope Francis set to take on climate change

By Brian Booker     Apr 29, 2015 in Environment
The Catholic Church is looking to convert the hearts and minds of those who deny climate change, seeking to convince them that the phenomenon is real and a grave threat.
At a Vatican summit on Tuesday, Cardinal Peter Turkson stated that the use of fossil fuels is disrupting the Earth on an “almost unfathomable scale.” Turkson's words carry a lot of weight as he is the lead Vatican spokesperson for peace and justice issues.
In his speech, Turkson referenced the Garden of Eden and noted how pride, self-centeredness and hubris proved to be destructive. Turkson argues that this message “still rings true today” in regard to global warming.
Turkson also argued the world's wealthiest countries have benefited the most from the use of fossil fuels, and thus should lead the way in finding a solution.
Turkson's statements come ahead of a highly-anticipated encyclical regarding the environment. Encyclicals are essentially briefs released by the Pope and can have a profound impact on the Church's policies. They are distributed to every Bishop.
Turkson has already drafted the encyclical, which is due to be released in June. His speech at the summit should provide insight into what the brief will contain. The encyclical is currently being translated and prepared for release.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also spoke at the summit and noted that “protecting the environment is an urgent moral imperative.” Mr. Ban expressed optimism that the church's stance on addressing environmental issues will have an extensive impact on climate change negotiations.
Both Ban and Turkson said science and faith were not at odds concerning climate change.
The Vatican City State is a permanent observing member of the United Nations. Although the Vatican is located in Rome, it is considered a sovereign territory.
Pope Francis has proved willing to tackle tough issues
While in the past the Catholic Church has been accused of being too conservative and refusing to wade into controversy, under Pope Francis the Church has taken a stand on numerous controversial issues.
Global warming now joins a list that includes wealth inequality, elitism, and money in politics. Pope Francis has also softened the church's stance on homosexuals, though the Church still regards homosexual acts as sinful.
Pope Francis is considered by many to be the most aggressive reformer the Church has seen in quite some time. His humble yet confident approach to overseeing the Church has drawn widespread praise from members of the faith, as well as political leaders, commentators, and social activists.
Of particular note is the Pope's humbleness. The Pope has made it a point to frequently wash and kiss worshipers' feet, a ritual that signifies his willingness to serve. The Pope was also the first to perform this ritual on women and non-Catholics.
Pope Francis has also earned a reputation for speaking off the cuff. While some previous Popes were careful to use scripted speeches when and wherever possible, Pope Francis has been more willing to speak on the spot and outside of scripted events.
In regards to climate change, the Pope's willingness to tackle serious issues and think outside of Church orthodoxy is on display once again.
More about Climate change, Global warming, Vatican, pope francis
 
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