Pope Francis Calls on Christians to Fight Climate Change
Following a Vatican-sponsored Sustainability Summit, the Pope reminded Christians of their duty to protect God's creation, and warned of the dire consequences of avoiding this responsibility.
"Let us be 'protectors' of creation, protectors of God's plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment." -Pope Francis
Conservative and liberal Christian scholars have long debated whether the Bible grants humankind dominion or stewardship over the environment. In a series of comments following a five-day summit on sustainability held at the Vatican earlier this month, Pope Francis implored his flock of more than one billion to “safeguard creation.”
“Safeguard creation,” the Pope admonished, “because if we destroy creation, creation will destroy us. Never forget this!” Pope Francis addressed his comments to a massive crowd in Rome, arguing that the “beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos” should be valued by Christians and that failure to do so can lead to disastrous consequences.
Legal scholars, microbiologists, philosophers, economists and other experts convened at the summit, “Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature, Our Responsibility” to explore how the Catholic Church can address a range of issues caused by climate change. Not surprising given a Pope who has particularly focused his efforts on helping the poor, the conference echoed the pontiff’s beliefs that environmental justice and economic justice go hand in hand.
In his comments, Francis also shared his view that destruction of the planet is a sinful act, akin to self-idolatry: “But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”
In a formal proposal issued at the summit, a joint workshop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences concluded, “We propose …to view Humanity's interchanges with Nature through a triplet of fundamental, but inter-related Human needs – Food, Health, and Energy – and ask our respective Academies to work together to invite experts from the natural and the social sciences to speak of the various pathways that both serve those needs and reveal constraints on Nature's ability to meet them.”
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