LONDON, United Kingdom – The Pope’s forthcoming encyclical on the environment will be ‘overtly political’, a senior member of one of the world’s biggest Catholic charities has said.
Graham Gordon, head of public policy at Cafod, told a meeting of the Catholic Voices group that the encyclical Laudato Sii will seek to exert political influence on two forthcoming international summits – the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris and the International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa.
The largely overlooked summit in Addis Ababa, the Ethopian capital, will take place next month. Its main aim is to get governments and aid agencies to agree to co-ordinate the distribution of foreign aid money around the world.
The encyclical’s main target, however, will be the much bigger summit in Paris this October. The UN Climate Change Conference is now an annual event, but has so far produced little of value in terms of real action. Last year’s conference in Lima was mocked for producing more CO2 than a small country and eventually yielding nothing more than a general agreement on the way forward.
Exactly how the encyclical will seek to influence these conferences will not become clear until after it is published next Thursday. However, the comments will cause concern for sceptics both within and outside the Catholic Church, who are worried Pope Francis may “take sides” in the debate on man-made climate change and declare climate scepticism a sin.
Breitbart London understands it will very likely call for humans to move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy (although nuclear energy may not get a mention), and it will probably also present a wider criticism of “consumerism” and “throw away culture”. This critique – dubbed “integral ecology” – will encompass not just environmental concerns but also abortion, wastefulness and lack of respect for people’s immediate surroundings.
Also of concern to sceptics is the presence of John Schellnhuber on the panel of speakers who will officially launch the encyclical next week. Schellnhuber, in the words of the New York Times, is “known for his aggressive stance on climate change policy” and in 2009 predicted that if the build-up of greenhouse gases continue at their present rate, Earth’s population would be devastated.
He will be the sole layman on the three-person panel, the other two members being Cardinal Turkson (President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace) and Metropolitan John of Pergamon, an Orthodox bishop.
Earlier this week, Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, who worked with Pope Francis on an earlier document in 2007, said some readers may be “uncomfortable” with the contents of the encyclical.
“The encyclical will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people’s life and health,” he said.
“Pope Francis has repeatedly stated that the environment is not only an economic or political issue, but is an anthropological and ethical matter. How can you have wealth if it comes at the expense of the suffering and death of other people and the deterioration of the environment?”