Pope Francis’ urgent plea on behalf of planet earth
Reflecting on the worsening climate change crisis in the eight years since he wrote his environmental encyclical letter “Laudato Si’”–concerning the urgent importance of caring for our common earth-home – Pope Francis laments, “I have realized that our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.”
And so instead of understandably giving up in frustration and saying to himself, “I have done all I can do. Government leaders, corporate CEOs, and most people are not listening – not listening to me, not listening to our wounded earth, not listening to the suffering masses of humanity, and not listening to the Creator”– our indomitable Pope Francis puts pen to paper and writes a bold sequel to his earlier environmental encyclical, this time titling it “Laudate Deum”(“Praise God”), addressed to “all people of good will on the climate crisis.”
Purposefully released on Oct. 4, the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, “Laudate Deum”boldly, even bluntly, challenges all of us to get out of our comfort zones to make the necessary government, corporate, ecclesial and individual changes required to save the earth, the vulnerable and future generations from catastrophic ruin.
Clearly challenging the position of climate change deniers, Pope Francis writes, “Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativize the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident. No one can ignore the fact that in recent years we have witnessed extreme weather phenomena, frequent periods of unusual heat, drought, and other cries of protest on the part of the earth that are only a few palpable expressions of a silent disease that affects everyone.”
Some charge the Holy Father with speaking outside the realm of his spiritual authority, saying he is not a climatologist. This sort of objection is nothing more than a red herring, designed to distract us from the objective scientific evidence that modern highly accelerated climate change is real, and is overwhelmingly due to human activity – mainly the burning of the fossil fuels coal, gas and oil. See NASA’s website “How do we know climate change is real?” (https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/).
Supporting the fact that the pontiff has done his scientific homework, Italian physicist, Giorgio Parisi, winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics, said it is significant that Pope Francis begins this apostolic exhortation with “a striking list of scientific facts.”
Pope Francis continues “Laudate Deum’s” prophetic challenge by defending poor people and poor nations who have contributed the least to climate change and its resultant global warming, but have suffered the most from the wealthier industrialized nations’ high use of oil, gas and coal.
He writes, “The reality is that a low, richer percentage of the planet contaminates more than the poorest 50 percent of the total world population, and that per capita emissions of the richer countries are much greater than those of the poorer ones. How can we forget that Africa, home to more than half of the world’s poorest people, is responsible for a minimal portion of historic emissions?”
“The necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels, is not progressing at the necessary speed,” warns the pope.
I hope this short column has whet your appetite to want to read the Holy Father’s prophetic apostolic exhortation “Laudate Deum” (“Praise God”) It will inspire and motivate you. Here’s the link https://bit.ly/45mk44f.
From the Bible’s first book of Genesis to Pope Francis’ “Laudate Deum”(“Praise God”), it is crystal clear that God has a wonderful plan for humanity and all of creation. But when we think and act in ways contrary to the Creator’s plan, we sooner or later bring sadness and even catastrophe upon ourselves.
The Holy Father concludes his apostolic exhortation with this wake up call: “‘Praise God’ is the title of this letter. For when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.