A draft of a papal encyclical was released early by a magazine called L’Espresso. The document was due to be released on Thursday. The Pope is travelling to the U.S. to speak in front of the United Nations and also a joint meeting of Congress. The Pope’s intentions are to ask that changes in lifestyles be made to try to stave off “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem.”
In 2009, Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had an encyclical that very much mirrored the current pope’s attitude toward the environment.
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Pope Francis believes that while there are natural causes for global warming, he feels that the majority of climate change should be blamed on humankind.
The draft of the document, which has not been finalized, states that “numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases…given off above all because of human activity.”
The papal encyclical is intended to be a letter to bishops. These encyclicals are not infallible or ‘ex cathedra.’ They are meant to be used as very important teaching documents. So, while it is worth taking notice when the Pope does issue an encyclical, it is very important to understand that it is on a subject that the pope feels impassioned over. It is, however, fallible.
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There are currently more than 300 published papal encyclicals. There are very few subjects that encyclicals have not touched on. This encyclical is due to be different than any of the others. It will be the first to be written entirely by a pope. It will also be the first to only tackle one topic. It will tackle what Pope Francis called ‘Creation Care’, which is a Christian idea that God gave humans the Earth to cultivate, not to conquer.
Several notable figures are expected to attend the conference Thursday morning, at which time the encyclical is set to be released publically. One of the most notable figures due to attend is Joachim Schellnhuber, a climate scientist from Germany.
The pope seems to be speaking on behalf of planet Earth in the beginning of the encyclical by saying: “[the Earth] is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking that we are her owners and dominators, authorized to loot her. The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things.”
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