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Why Pope Francis and the Encyclical Matter

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If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I am beyond thrilled about Pope Francis’s papal encyclical, released today. As stated in this New York Times article, “The new papal encyclical on the environment is a ringing call to action, a critique of consumerism and a prophetic warning about the dangers of ignoring what Pope Francis calls “the ecological crisis.”’

Pope Francis Photo

The Pope’s message on this issue is important. Scientific studies and facts do not appear to be making a meaningful impact. I am hopeful that this is the game changer the movement needs. This quote from the New York Times article states it better than I can – “The hard lesson scientists have learned in recent years, Dr. Schellnhuber said, is that presenting the facts and data about global warming and other environmental problems has not been enough to move the public to action. The issues have become so serious that only a broad moral awakening can offer hope of solving them, he said.”

My enthusiasm at this news was quickly met by comments and messages from friends, criticizing the contents of the encyclical and my enthusiasm for this Pope. I have been called misguided and ill informed of the facts.

There are few things in life I feel more strongly about than my belief that the Pope, 95% of the scientific community, and the majority of Americans are on the right side of history on this one. The sooner we all get on board, the sooner we can become better stewards of our planet. How taking better care of our collective planet is up for argument is something I will never understand.

Some say the Pope has no business getting involved in this issue. I could not disagree more. I don’t see how the Pope’s role is not to look out for God’s creatures and God’s creation. Nothing threatens both more than the environmental degradation we are inflicting on our planet.

Even IF you do not agree with the facts about climate change, we are damaging our planet in many ways that go beyond climate change – pollution, pesticides, rainforest destruction, and the incredible damage that we are doing to our oceans has to scare you. These things are all real. This photo right here. This is a photo of a landfill in India. This is happening. This is happening right now.

Trashdumpindia

One last note on climate change. The science is settled on this. It is happening, and the result of human activity. Lots of smart people have spent their entire lives studying this problem, dissecting it from every angle, and offering solutions. The Pope is listening to them. We should too. Science is “bought and paid for” say the conspiracy theorists. Here’s the thing – of course scientific study is funded, but that is not the same as being bought and paid for. There is no “scientific conspiracy” on this issue. There’s a quote by Benjamin Franklin I like that says “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” The science is settled. There is no “cover up” or “conspiracy”. It’s time to listen to smart people who know much more than we do, as armchair critics and observers.

Thank you Pope Francis, for shining a bright light on this issue and bringing it to worldwide attention. Thank you for lighting a fire under me to get back to my blog and my message. You give me hope. Hope for the church, hope for change, hope for the future, and hope for our planet. God bless you on this journey. You have my full support and overwhelming gratitude.

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