Pope to UN summit: Climate change linked to ethical decline

New York City, N.Y., Sep 24, 2019 / 10:07 am (CNA).- In a video message Monday to the UN Climate Action Summit, Pope Francis stressed that climate change is linked to ethical decline and human degradation.

“The problem of climate change is related to issues of ethics, equity and social justice. The current situation of environmental degradation is connected with the human, ethical and social degradation that we experience every day,” Pope Francis said in the Spanish video message to the UN, published Sept. 23.

The pope called climate change “one of the most serious and worrying phenomena of our time.”

Pope Francis said that humanity is called to cultivate the moral qualities of “honesty, responsibility and courage” to face this global challenge.

He quested whether there is “a real political will” to “allocate greater human, financial and technological resources to mitigate the negative effects and climate change and to help the poorest and most vulnerable populations.”

“With the Paris Agreement of 12 December 2015, the international community became aware of the urgency and need for a collective response to help build our common home. However, four years after that historic Agreement, we can see that the commitments made by States are still very ‘weak,’ and are far from achieving the objectives set,” he said.

“While the situation is not good and the planet is suffering, the window of opportunity is still open. We are still in time,” Francis added.

The pope called upon the UN to think about the meaning of current models of consumption and production and to place the economy at the service of the human person and peace building.

“Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities,” Pope Francis said, quoting his 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato Si.

Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg also addressed the UN Sept. 23. Pope Francis previously met Thunberg in April after one of his Wednesday general audiences.

“Thank you for standing up for the climate, for speaking the truth. It means a lot,” Thunberg told Pope Francis April 17.

The pope told the young activist “God bless you,” shook her hand, and encouraged her to continue her efforts, according to Vatican Media.


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  1. When and if the dust settles, say in a few decades or a century, HISTORY might well record Pope Francis’ priority on the natural ecology as a sort of Galileo Moment not bungled too much as in the past. Today the Pope urges actions “to mitigate the negative effects and climate change and to help the poorest and most vulnerable populations.”

    Yes, mitigate. But in the more cobbled-together “Laudato Si” (2015) we find less coherent language about BOTH “adapting” (n. 170) AND “reversing” (n. 175) climate change. Today a more nuanced grasp, perhaps, about multiple causation, man-made and otherwise.

    On the other hand, history might also note the unabated demolition of the “human ecology” (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1993)—especially the undermining of MARRIAGE and the FAMILY—neither reversed nor even mitigated as by the placement of homosexual activists in positions of influence and power even within the Church, e.g., the ravaged John Paul II Institute.

    So, of the multiple crises of the 21st century—yes, the plate runneth over.
    And thus the apparent temptation to split the difference—to average-out all the combined messaging about the natural AND human ecologies. John Paul II called this law of averages—-the COMBINED “integral human ecology” (?)—- “proportionalism” and found it morally wanting (Veritatis Splendor).

    Splitting the difference—as between the natural ecology and the sanctuary of the human ecology—didn’t count for much, either, in the time of the wise king, Solomon. Solomon did NOT split the disputed and whole child (as with Amazonia’s return to “mother nature”?) And as for today’s “poorest and most vulnerable populations,” the 19th-century runaway slave, Jim, in Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” got it, but also could see through the law of averages. . .

    Finn said something both climactic and climatic about Solomon: “De’ spute warn’t ’bout a half a chile, de ’spute was ’bout a whole chile; en de man dat think he kin settle a ’spute bout a whole chile wid a half a chile, doan’ know enough to come in out’n de rain.”

  2. What’s the point of fighting earthly pollution when we ignore the moral and spiritual pollution that poses a more serious threat not only to our lives but our eternal souls?

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