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Pope Francis steps up calls for Catholics to support action on climate change

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is informed about the Catholic Climate Petition by GCCM representative (Tomás Insua, Argentina). Credit: Fotografia Felici

With the Papal encyclical on climate change approaching, Pope Francis is stepping up his call for leadership, urging Catholics around the world to sign a new petition for bold climate action.

The eagerly anticipated encyclical, expected next month, will provide an ethical foundation for action to address climate change in the lead up to the UN talks in Paris this December.

Ahead of this call for action, the Global Climate Catholic Movement (GCCM) is responding to the Pope’s message that climate change is “a clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act,” rallying catholics around the world to take action.

By endorsing the petition, signed by his Pontifical Ceremonieri, Monsignor Guillermo Karcher, Pope Francis has once again signalled his intention “to lead Catholics into an active response to climate change” as he, this week, warned the rich and powerful that God will judge them on whether they fed the poor and cared for the Earth.

Co-founder of the GCCM, Tomás Insua said:

Pope Francis was very supportive of the work we are doing to engage Catholics around the world in a coordinated response to climate change. The Pope even joked that we were competing against his encyclical. His endorsement of our work is extremely important to raise awareness within Catholic circles globally, and to collect more signatures.

Climate denying voices, such as the US-based Heartland Institute, have criticised the Pope’s upcoming Encyclical on climate change.

Such premature criticism has been described as “absurd” by the Pope’s closest advisor, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, but it importantly illustrates just how fearful those preaching inaction are of the Pope’s moral authority, and an increasingly vocal faith community.

Faith communities around the world are already taking action on climate change.

Two weeks ago the Vatican hosted a high-level climate summit stating that “decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative”, while Pope Francis’ closest advisor Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga hit out at climate sceptics on his visit to the US this week.

Meanwhile, the United Church of Christ in the US, the Church of England, the Quakers in Britain, and the World Council of Churches have all taken steps to divest; the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) is fighting coal expansion; and faith leaders from around take part in fast for the climate on the first day of each month.

Climate change is an inconvenient political problem, but it is a great moral challenge that all must rise to.

The Pope is already being criticised for joining a politically charged debate, but with the world’s poor being hit first and hardest by climate change, and the very existence of Pacific Island nations at risk, his moral authority, message of hope, and call to action for Catholics worldwide is desperately needed.

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