This morning, the Vatican released the official version of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change. The final draft skewers climate change skeptics and demands global cooperation of people and governments in order to take care of the Earth and the poor. Although the Vatican had warned earlier this week that the leaked draft did not represent the final version of the Pope’s missive, it seems now that the draft was highly accurate.
Pope Francis leads the document by pointing to the “solid scientific consensus” that acknowledges climate change in the world, and he continues on to criticize those who reject scientific evidence of human activity as a factor. His description of our suffering world is severe, saying that Earth “is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” due to the destruction of nature and loss of resources. He also chastises rich environmentalists for sidelining concerns about the poor in their “green rhetoric,” acknowledging that the poor are not generally involved in conversations about climate change.
The silver thread sewn throughout the document is the Pope’s discussion of the Earth as a shared home. He says, “We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family.” Beyond that, the Pope offers some very practical advice for combating climate change and reducing energy usage. He writes, “A person who could afford to spend and consume more but regularly uses less heating and wears warmer clothes, shows the kind of convictions and attitudes which help to protect the environment.”
The 184-page encyclical, called Laudato Si, can be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF in five languages. The document’s name is an archaic Italian phrase, which means “Praised Be To You” and appears in the “Canticle of the Sun,” a song penned by St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology.