The United States recently had the privilege of welcoming Pope Francis as he visited Washington D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. While in the U.S., the pope spoke on a variety of topics and connected with people of all levels. One major subject that Pope Francis stressed throughout his trip was the issue of climate change. Just prior to his visit, he delivered a 192-page encyclical on the environment.
On several occasions throughout his visit, the pope said that climate change is a worldwide problem, and that we all must join together to improve our way of living. The pope’s message to the United States was that, as Americans, we have responsibilities to uphold. We have the power to make a difference, unlike others around the world who are impoverished and unable to take action. If climate change is not recognized as a true concern and dealt with urgently, the planet will be in jeopardy. We must preserve the beauty this planet has to offer rather than stripping it of resources for a profit. The pope stressed that addressing climate change is not a matter of government, science or religion, but a matter of ethics. The pope’s message was that in order to have true respect for mankind, future generations and yourself, we must also have respect for our common home: the Earth.
During the first part of his visit, Pope Francis visited Washington D.C., where he met with President Obama, and addressed the United States Congress.
“Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me…that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation,” the pope said. “We are living at a critical moment in history. We still have time to make the change needed to bring about sustainable and integral development.”
Later, he stated that “humanity has the ability to work together in building our common home.”
The pope also made profound remarks at the United Nations General Assembly.
“Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity,” Pope Francis said. “A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”
The pope has since left the people of America, hoping that his words on climate change would inspire world leaders to reach an agreement and declare action at the United Nations conference, which will be held in Paris toward the end of this year.
Pope Francis’ stance on climate change as an ethical and moral issue is both powerful and inspiring. For years, politicians, scientists and world leaders have described global warming and climate change as an extremely complicated issue on which a mutual agreement will never be attained. It is refreshing that the pope has boiled it down to simplistic points that we can all agree on. There is no question that Pope Francis’ influence during his visit to the U.S. will continue to have a lasting effect in the hearts of many people, and hopefully have a lasting impact on our planet too.
Westminster Eco Rep
Printed in the 10/07/15 issue.