Pope Francis hurls Catholics into climate argument

Pope Francis has weighed in on climate change, with the head of the Catholic church demanding his flock take global warming seriously. The lengthy message was released as an Encyclical Letter – a letter issued to bishops – today, in which Pope Francis revealed he had been in discussion with scientists, theologians, and more on topics like water quality, "throwaway culture", loss of biodiversity, and global inequality.

Describing the planet as "our Sister, Mother Earth," words ascribed to Saint Francis of Assisi, the Pope warns that indifference and unchecked human activity have taken their toll.

"This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she "groans in travail" (Rom 8:22)." Pope Francis

Over the course of 192 pages, the Pope calls for an "ecological conversion" of the faithful. The policies and technologies are broad-reaching, too: everything from renewable fuel subsidies, through the impact on bird and insect species of untempered agrotoxins, to carpooling and increasing the use of public transportation.

Recycling and simply turning off the lights also got namechecked. In one of the aspects of the letter likely to prove more controversial, the Pontiff suggests boycotts of the environmentally-unfriendly might be appropriate.

Whether or not you're of the Catholic faith yourself, there's no denying that in forcing those who are believers to give consideration to climate change, Pope Francis is wielding a huge amount of power and in a way that will draw a vast amount of attention to the issue.

"Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective," he writes, "not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest."

Turning a blind eye is now no excuse among Catholics, and neither can they ignore global poverty, a common theme of this particular Pope.

A preview of the furore set to result from the Letter was seen earlier in the week, when a draft leaked and set voices on both sides of the environmental debate into angry argument.

SOURCE Vatican