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2015 SkS News Bulletin #4: Pope Francis & Climate Change

Posted on 16 June 2015 by John Hartz

How the Pope could turn U.S. climate politics upside down

Pope Francis is about to release a much-anticipated letter to bishops about faith and climate change. If it has the impact he's counting on, it could finally budge a glacier of frozen thinking on the crisis. It could break through to millions of Americans who thought they knew what they thought about global warming.

Here's how he's trying to pull this off.

Think about the people you associate with climate change. Al Gore and environmental activists. Al Gore and big-government liberals. UN diplomats. Impenetrable scientists. Al Gore.

You're not alone, whatever your religious faith and whoever you are. Environmentalists and scientists have prattled on about global warming for a generation. No wonder many people think about it this way, even though projections of potentially catastrophic consequences—given desperately needed currency in 2006 by Gore in a landmark documentary—are widely credited and very real.

How the Pope Could Turn U.S. Climate Politics Upside Down by Eric Rosten, Bloomberg, June 12,2015

Pope Francis may find wariness among U.S. Bishops on climate change

The church bulletin inserts are nearly ready to go. So are the emails to every Roman Catholic parish in the United States with preaching suggestions for the first Sunday afterPope Francis releases his encyclical on the environment.

A week after that, on June 28, churches worldwide are being asked to ring their bells at noon to commemorate a “Thank you, Pope Francis” march in Rome being held that day.

Never before, church leaders say, has a papal encyclical been anticipated so eagerly by so many. With Francis expected to make the case that climate change, unchecked development and overconsumption are exacerbating the suffering of the poor, advocates for the environment and the poor are thrilled.

Pope Francis may find wariness among U.S. Bishops on climate change by Luarie Goodstein, New York Times, June 13, 2015

Pope Francis takes on climate change

Anticipation is mounting as one of the world's most important public figures prepares to convey a key message on ecology and the environment that could have a profound impact on the way 1.2 billion Catholics think about their relationship with the planet. Some believe it could even be a game-changerin the global struggle to deal with climate change.

Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on ecology, due to be published Thursday, June 18, is expected to portray climate change as fundamentally connected to human rights and the plight of the world's poorest citizens, and to stress an urgent need for action.

"It means making change that leads to simpler, fuller lives, when we don't just consume resources like crazy," Lonnie Ellis, associate director of the Catholic Climate Covenant told DW.

"But it also means advocating and trying to change systems and laws. Francis has been pretty clear that we need to move away from a throwaway culture and an economy of exclusion."

Pope Francis takes on climate change by Ruby Russell, Deustche-Welle (DW), June 15, 2015 

Pope Francis to explore climate’s effect on world’s poor

Ban Ki-moon arrived at the Vatican with his own college of cardinals. Mr. Ban, the United Nations secretary general, had brought the leaders of all his major agencies to see Pope Francis, a show of organizational muscle and respect for a meeting between two global institutions that had sometimes shared a bumpy past but now had a mutual interest.

The agenda was poverty, and Francis inveighed against the “economy of exclusion” as he addressed Mr. Ban’s delegation at the Apostolic Palace. But in an informal meeting with Mr. Ban and his advisers, Francis shifted the discussion to the environment and how environmental degradation weighed heaviest on the poor.

“This is the pope of the poor,” said Robert Orr, who attended the May 2014 meeting as Mr. Ban’s special adviser on climate change and described the informal conversation with Francis. “The fact that he is making the link to the planet is really significant.”

Pope Francis to Explore Climate’s Effect on World’s Poor by Jim Yardley, New York Times, June 13, 2015

Pope, GOP collide on climate change

Climate change — long the subject of a divisive political debate — is getting a boost of fresh attention heading into the 2016 presidential campaign thanks to an unlikely public figure: the Pope.

The Vatican is set to release Pope Francis' highly anticipated encyclical — an official document delivering teachings from the Pope — on the environment and climate change this week. Marking the second such document from the Pope since he assumed the papacy in March 2013, the encyclical is expected to cast the battle against global warming as a moral obligation.

With his famously warm and humble gestures and a vision for a more inclusive Catholic Church, Pope Francis has publicly addressed other sensitive political topics like same-sex marriage, abortion and economic inequality. Environmental advocates are eager to see the head of the Catholic Church lend his enormous stature and influence to their cause.

Pope, GOP collide on climate change by MJ Lee, CNN, June 15, 2015 

Storm on climate change awaits pope's environment letter

Pope Francis will call on all people to be "stewards of creation" and address the hot-button topic of climate change on Thursday in the most feverishly awaited papal encyclical in decades.

By making environmental protection a moral imperative, his intervention could spur the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to lobby policymakers on ecology issues. Francis has already used his two-year-old papacy to lead in areas such as the resumption of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States, a deal the Vatican brokered.

Francis has said he wants the document, called "Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home," to be part of the debate at a major U.N. summit on climate change later this year.

Storm on climate change awaits pope's environment letter by Philip Pullella, Reuters, June 14, 2015

The Pope’s environmental encyclical promises to shake up the climate debate

he long-awaited papal encyclical on the environment could have a significant influence on conservative politics around the world.

The prominence of Catholics in conservative parties is part of a growing trend within Australia and the United States of Catholics shifting to the political right as they move out of the working class and into the middle and upper classes.

For instance in Australia, around half of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s cabinet are Catholic, including Abbott, agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce, and communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Never before in the history of Catholicism has a papal document attracted as much attention, even before it has been released. The document, entitled Lautado Sii (Praised be), is to be released this Thursday, with a leaked draft already having appeared in the press.

The reason for this interest is the strong indication that Pope Francis will be taking a definite stand on what for some remains a controversial issue, the question of human-induced climate change. On present indications, and consistent with previous papal comments, the document will place climate change within the larger framework of a global economic system that promotes overconsumption. Meanwhile, the poor not only lack the basics needed for life, but will carry the main burden of the effects of climate change.

This controversy is likely to be keenly felt in Australia, with the Abbott government at best lukewarm on the issue of climate change, and at worst actively hostile to taking meaningful steps to combat it.

The Pope’s environmental encyclical promises to shake up the climate debate by Neil Ormerod, The Conversation AU, June 16, 2015

The Pope, the economy and the case for climate action

This week Pope Francis issues his long awaited Encyclical on Climate Change. The Pope’s message should galvanize support for climate action for the Catholic community and well beyond. It will speak not only to the 5,000 Catholic Bishops, nor only to the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, but to all people of goodwill who are open to the moral context of climate change.

I’m confident of this, since two weeks ago, together with members of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Change, I had the great privilege of meeting with the Pope and his top Cardinals at the Vatican to discuss the subject.

The Pope, the Economy and the Case for Climate Action by Andrew Steer, World Resources Institute, June 16, 2015

The Vatican has been talking about climate change for years

Pope Francis is making waves.

On Thursday, the pope is expected to deliver an encyclical—a rare and powerful Vatican statement—calling for international action to prevent the most devastating impacts of global warming.

Mankind's relationship with nature has never before been the primary focus of an encyclical, but this is far from the first time the Vatican has taken a green stand.

The Vatican has consistently framed climate change as a moral issue—a lens that environmentalists and some faith leaders hope will make the political debate over global warming less contentious by elevating it to a higher moral ground.

When Francis lays out a vision for how the world should respond to rapidly rising temperatures on Earth, his message will build on long-established Catholic tradition.

The Vatican Has Been Talking About Climate Change for Years by Clare Foran, National Journal, June 14, 2015

Will the Papal Encyclical bring the 'Francis effect' to the climate debates?

Next week, Pope Francis is scheduled to release "Laudato Sii" ("Praised Be You"), his eagerly anticipated encyclical (authoritative teaching document) on the environment.

I have never seen such excitement — and controversy — surrounding an encyclical. It speaks to the extraordinary global presence Francis has achieved in a relatively short period of time. This feels to me like one of those rare moments when the Message and the Messenger can combine to change the world in a very significant way.

Rising sea levels and catastrophic weather events have gotten people's attention. People are becoming more aware of the reality that climate change isn't just a theoretical conjecture, scientific debate or partisan political issue. It's real, it's happening now, and it's dangerous.

And Francis — uniquely among world leaders — has the ability to change the conversation around the need to protect our environment.

Will the Papal Encyclical Bring the 'Francis Effect' to the Climate Debates? byJim Wallis, The Huffington Post, June 12, 2015

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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. What I really, really hope he does is denounce the idea, popular among religious denialists, that God has created the World to be proof against damage thata humans can cause. I have see plenty of disingenuois false humility claiming that it is presumption to believe that puny humans could harm what God has created. I see variations of this from atheist deniers as well, with rather less justification. This really is a claim that God backs your side of politics and your opponents are doing evil, not you.

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  2. Republicans' leading climate denier tells the pope to butt out of climate debate

    Oklahoma senator James Inhofe [...] calling global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”, took a star turn on Thursday at the Heartland Institute[...]

    His message – that “God is still up there” and that Pope Francis should mind his own business – sent a clear signal to his fellow conservatives

    That's just hillarious. To maintain the tenacity of his position, Inhofe is now assuming the role of fake religious leader. How far would he be able to travel that way before the obvious stupidity of such ideology becomes untenable?

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