Pope Francis has called on the world’s wealthy nations to begin paying their “grave social debt” to the poor and take concrete steps on climate change, saying failure to do so presents an undeniable risk to a “common home” that is beginning to resemble a “pile of filth”, The Guardian has reported.
The pope’s 180-page encyclical on the environment is at the core of the Roman Catholic Church’s moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels.
But it is also a document infused with an activist anger and concern for the poor, casting blame on the indifference of the powerful in the face of certain evidence that humanity is at risk following 200 years of misuse of resources.
Up to now, Pope Francis says, the world has accepted a “cheerful recklessness” in its approach to the issue, lacking the will to change habits for the good of the Earth.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the papal statement says. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
The release of the statement was timed to coincide with the pope’s upcoming trip to the US, where he will speak before the United Nations and a joint session of Congress.
The encyclical, which can now be considered the church’s official position on the environment, includes practical guidance.
Pope Francis rejects “simple solutions” such as cap and trade systems, which he says give rise to harmful speculation.
He also dismisses any suggestion that population increases harm to the environment and should therefore be controlled, and resists making any judgment on genetically modified foods.
Pope Francis, who was elected in 2013 and has put social justice and reform of the church at the heart of his papacy, said that his text should not be read as a green manifesto, but instead as a social teaching.