Why Pope Francis Refused To Stay Silent On Climate Change

To the chagrin of climate change deniers, the pontiff's environmental encyclical says there are no reasonable doubts that global warming is caused by human activity.

Blessed be the trees
Blessed be the trees
Ignacio Zuleta


BOGOTA â€" Pope Francis has penned a long-awaited "green" encyclical on the destruction of the natural world, the fruit of years of research inside the Catholic Church. The first clue that the Church was planning to adopt an environmental position came in late April, when the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convened a conference that also drew secular groups and the United Nations.

The "On Caring for Creation" encyclical â€" whose draft was leaked June 15 by the Italian magazine L'Espresso â€" is inspired by Saint Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of the Creatures," and will address both climate change and extreme poverty. Pope Francis is expected to include his reflections on the systems currently preying on the planet as they blindly seek to maximize profit.

The Pope has stated in formal and informal declarations that the document will not assert as factual and true anything about which science is divided. To the chagrin of climate change deniers, it will, for example, say that "man-induced climate change is a scientific reality" and "its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity."

Not surprisingly, the powers representing oil companies have not been sitting idly. They have sent representatives to lobby the Vatican, while other detractors of the pontiff's style and agenda try to minimize his influence. For example, Maureen Mullarkey, a critic and contributor to the influential theological review First Things, accuses the pope of being a dogmatist driven into geopolitical meddling by his own megalomania.

Why should the pope be silent here? Why, when the G7 and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel have declared there must be a deadline for abandoning all use of fossil fuels? President Barack Obama has found an environmental ally in Pope Francis, who has not hesitated to denounce how an economic system based on consumerism is ruining the planet (not to mention the earth beneath our feet). The Vatican's April meeting criticized using Gross Domestic Product as the measure of wealth while excluding the harmful costs of business.

If intellectuals oppose the Church here with the same fanaticism they show in their anti-clerical writings, all people will lose this opportunity to unite around basic certainties, like the fact that we are causing climate change and that the planet may wind up ridding itself of the species harming it. There is something helpful in a declaration that could prompt consciousness among millions of people, and in the follow-up campaign the Church will no doubt undertake among its faithful.

After all, this struggle is in many ways spiritual, and the papal encyclical must be read in its own unique light.

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File:Parsin Gas and CNG Station in Karaj-Qazvin Freeway, Iran ...

Gas stations in many Iranian cities had trouble supplying fuel earlier in the week in what was a suspected cyberattack on the fuel distribution system. One Tehran daily on Thursday blamed Israel, which may have carried out similar acts in past years, to weaken Iran's hostile regime.

The incident reportedly disrupted the credit and debit card payments system this time, forcing users to pay cash and higher prices, the London-based broadcaster Iran International reported.

Though state officials didn't publicly accuse anyone specific, they did say perhaps this and other attacks had been planned for October, to "anger people" on the anniversary of the anti-government protests of 2019.

Khamenei, where's our gas?

Cheeky slogans were spotted Tuesday in different places in Iran, including electronic panels over motorways. One of them read "Khamenei, where's our gas?"

Iran International reported that Tehran-based news agency ISNA posted, then deleted, a report on drivers also seeing the message "cyberattack 64411" on screens at gas stations, purported to be the telephone number of the office of Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A member of parliament's National Security Committee, Vahid Jalalzadeh, said the attack had been planned months ahead, and had inflicted "grave losses," Iran International and domestic agencies reported Thursday. The conservative Tehran newspaper Kayhan named "America, the Zionist regime and their goons" as the "chief suspects" in the attack.

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