Pope Francis called for collective action to stop climate change last week in his 184-page encyclical, which asserted that pursuing environmental sustainability is a moral imperative.
World media outlets reported heavily on the document released Thursday, many saying the work represents another way the leader of the traditionally conservative Roman Catholic Church is charting a new course for the faith.
Speaking out against a culture of consumerism, the pope said in the encyclical that an environmental commitment would arise from cultivating a spiritual connection with the earth.
“… If we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously,” he wrote in the introduction.
Sustainability as a moral imperative rings true with arguments other scholars and world leaders have made recently.
Critics say the pope isn’t open enough to conflicting views. One French author, who wrote a book claiming greenhouse gases are not causing climate change, was denied a seat at a Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences summit on the subject. The academy didn’t want naysayers in attendance, he said.
We applaud Pope Francis for calling attention to sustainability from a point of view sometimes forgotten in political and economic discussions. To keep our shared planet healthy, we must do more than create another policy or scientific model. People worldwide will need to shift their perspective and protect the environment — not because it’s efficient to do so or aligns with a political party’s beliefs, but instead because it’s the right thing to do.