Pope Francis has drawn the ire of many US conservatives with a plea for the country to take climate change seriously, and to protect our “common home”.
The Pope has been known for his strong stance on inequality and climate change, particularly with a high-level encyclical delivered that some commentators said “could do more to slow global warming than international negotiations this year to limit greenhouse gas emissions”.
With his White House speech this week, the Pope delivered a message on climate change much stronger than many expected, spending a large part of his speech speaking on the issue and referring to his own encyclical:
“Mr President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.
“When it comes to the care of our ‘common home’ we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about ‘a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change’ (Laudato Si’, 13).
“Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honour it.
“We know by faith that ‘the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home’ (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.
“Mr President, the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom.
“I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.”
The news is receiving huge coverage across the US, which is good news for the climate movement, as a recent study found that fewer than one in three Americans, and 40 per cent of Catholics, were aware of the Pope’s efforts to publicise climate change.
The conservative media in the US has gone into attack overdrive, labelling the Pope as dangerous, anti-capitalist and “a marxist”. Many have derided what they see as an unwanted move into politics, though the Pope, and many popes before him, have expressed views on marriage and reproductive rights heavily battled in the political sphere.
How Right-Wing Media Are Welcoming Pope Francis To AmericaThis is how right-wing media welcomed Pope Francis to America:
Posted by Media Matters for America on Tuesday, 22 September 2015
On contentious issues, including climate change, immigration, abortion and marriage, the Pope gave guidance to US bishops during a speech at Saint Matthews cathedral.
He told the bishops that it was wrong to “look the other way or to remain silent”.
“It is our duty to preserve and communicate them, even when the tenor of the times becomes resistant and even hostile to that message.”
The Pope is due to speak to Congress on Thursday afternoon, a speech which is already being boycotted by at least one Republican representative.