Pope Francis is to publish an encyclical on climate change and plans to convene a meeting of faith leaders on the issue ahead of two crucial summits on the environment next year.
The developments were revealed by Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, when he delivered Cafod’s annual Pope Paul VI lecture on Friday last week.
While it is known that Pope Francis has been working on a climate change encyclical, its time of publication had not previously been made public.
Bishop Sorondo, an Argentinian who is close to the Pope, said the encyclical would be produced in time to influence “next year’s crucial decisions”, which include a meeting in September at the United Nations to draft the Sustainable Development Goals and another gathering on climate change in Paris in December.
On the planned papal meeting the bishop said the Pope wanted to bring leaders of the main religions together “to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion”.
In September in an article for the journal Science, two academics called for a “massive mobilisation” of public opinion by the Vatican and other religions to take action to protect the environment.
In his lecture the bishop said the problems for the natural world have been exacerbated by the fact economic activity is only measured according to gross domestic product that “does not take into account the degradation of the earth” nor “the unjust inequalities between countries and within countries”.
Bishop Sorondo told The Tablet: “The Pope is very aware that the consequences of climate change affect all people, but especially the poor. This is the moral consequence, the moral imperative.”
Above: Pope Francis links care of creation to love of neighbour. Photo: CNS