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Vatican Science Academy Urges Government Action on Climate Change to Protect Poor

Pope Francis will issue proclamation in wake of recent summit

(Vittoriano Rastelli/CORBIS)
smithsonian.com

As climate change continues, its impacts on poverty, food security and the economy are becoming more clear. And the scientific academy isn’t the only group urging action to slow the change — today, following a conference on religion and the environment, the Catholic Church is encouraging measures to reduce climate change, too.

Today, during a conference at the Vatican, a group of nobel-winning scientists, academics, religious leaders all pushed for more action from governments on the issue of our changing climate. Their mission: create a joint statement on “the moral and religious imperative of dealing with climate change.” The BBC’s Roger Harrabin reports that the conference is expected to result in an Encyclical, or official statement, on climate change delivered by Pope Francis next month.

A Vatican official told Harrabin that abrupt climate change should be taken seriously by Catholics:

...Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, who heads the [Vatican’s Scientific] Academy, told BBC News that Christians were obliged to be stewards of the Earth and protect the poor - which meant taking action to safeguard the climate.

The Pope’s upcoming statement won’t be the first time Church leaders have weighed in on climate change, Sorondo tells Harrabin. In 1988, the Vatican held a workshop focusing on climate change and society, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences has since published multiple studies on everything from modeling climate change to glaciers.

The attitudes of American Catholics toward climate change are sharply divided by race and ethnicity in the United States—a study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that while 73 percent of Hispanic Catholics are concerned about climate change, those sentiments are shared by only 41 percent of white Catholics. But as Michelle Boorstein at Washington Post reports, the Pope's word on climate change won't change the mind of many conservatives in the United States. 

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