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Climate Change and the Catholic Church: Pope Francis in the U.S.

Pope Francis’s visit to the United States last week caused a hubbub of conversation. Whether discussing Black Lives Matter or his thoughts on abortion, there is one issue on which Pope Francis has made his opinion blatantly clear: climate change. In the wake of his second encyclical, Laudato si’, Pope Francis took to the U.S. Congress and the General Assembly of the United Nations to emphasize the utter importance of this issue. In Laudato si’, which is addressed to every person living on this planet, Pope Francis criticizes throwaway culture and emphasizes the global problem of climate change and the serious consequences it will cause for each of us as a result of our mistreatment of our “common home.”


Pope Francis with Vice President Joe Bidden and Former House Speaker John Boehner

Pope Francis became the first Pope to address a joint session of Congress on the September, reminding U.S. lawmakers of their important role in pioneering climate change legislation. The Pope appealed to business interest as well by reminding business owners that the “creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good. This common good also includes the Earth.”


Pope Francis kissing a baby during his D.C. parade

At the United Nations, the Pope stated “any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.” The planet is the “creation of God and humans don’t have the authority to abuse or destroy it.”

His arguments for the reversal of our environmental damage span more than religious reasoning, he also notes the impact of climate change on the impoverished, saying “The poorest are those who suffer most from such offenses, for three serious reasons: they are cast off by society, forced to live off what is discarded and suffer unjustly from the abuse of the environment. They are part of today’s widespread and quietly growing ‘culture of waste.”

Climate change is a hot topic at the United Nations this session. The U.N. Sustainability goals, which were adopted by the U.N. this past Friday, were endorsed by the Pontiff because of their environmental and human rights focus.  With an estimated 1.1 billion Catholics in the world as of 2010, this kind of environmental emphasis from their spiritual leader brings the issue to the attention of millions of people.  Now that the issue is known, we can take global steps to correct it.