In an unprecedented papal encyclical, Pope Francis is calling for a economic and ethical revolution to wage battle against climate change.
The letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics will be released in five languages on Thursday, June 18 and will expound upon the link between economics, poverty, and ecological destruction.
“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. I think a question that we are not asking ourselves is: isn’t humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature? Safeguard creation because, if we destroy it, it will destroy us. Never forget this.” (Pope Francis, October 2014 from The Global Catholic Movement, The Universal Common Good: Our Common Home)
This Papal Encyclical, entitled Laudato Sii (Praised be to you), is the second released by Pope Francis. His first, Lumen Fideii, The Light of Faith, was primarily authored by Pope Benedict XIV.
An encyclical, originally a ‘circular letter’ for distribution to bishops, is an expansive statement reflecting the Pope’s teachings and is regarded as the supreme authority of the Church.
Encyclicals are exhortative in tone. They counsel and encourage and thus make clear that what is said is not to be taken lightly. They deal with complex social and moral issues and back up their claims with reference to the Bible and to Catholic tradition and doctrines. They also rely on the traditional significance of the teaching role of the Pope and the bishops as articulated at the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
While Encyclicals do not compel Catholics to believe and act in accordance with what is said, the expectation is that all Catholics (and it is hoped all people of good will) will use the teaching as guidance for their life style and moral commitments. For theologians, both clerical and lay, relevant encyclicals have traditionally informed their scholarship and continue to do so. (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Frequently Asked Questions About the Papal Encyclical)
Papal spokesperson Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Peru says the encyclical will “address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people’s life and health.” (See The Guardian, Explosive intervention by Pope Francis set to transform climate change debate.)
Organizations around the world are rallying in support of this monumental action by the world’s most powerful religious leader with symbolically powerful marches, speeches and mobilizations.
In anticipation of the release of the Encyclical, the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) is assisting in promoting Climate Mobilization Day tomorrow in locations around the world.
Our Voices and 350.org are among the hosts of Rome’s June 28 One Earth, One Human Family to celebrate the Pope’s call to action. Scientists, artists, multi-faith leaders and citizens from all walks of life will rally at the Piazza Fornaze at 10AM for a march to St. Peter’s Square. At Noon, faith-based communities worldwide will ring bells, chimes and gongs or sound shofars.
The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Coopération Internationale pour le Développement et la Solidarité (CIDSE) are also planning a joint July 1 press conference in which they will focus on the three key 2015 climate change and development events:
• July’s Third international conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa
• September’s United Nations summit for the adoption of the Post-2015 sustainable development framework
• December’s COP21 climate negotiations in Paris, where world leaders are expected to ratify a legally binding treaty to keep global warming below 2 degrees C.
The People’s Pilgrimage
Around the world people of faith are setting out on journeys, big and small, to visit the places at the heart of the climate crisis. To places of hope and resistance but also to places at risk or already suffering the consequences of a less stable planet.