Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

In leaked draft, Pope Francis calls on society to move away from fossil fuels and praises the climate movement saying it has "inspired reflection." (Photo: Jeffrey Brunoe/Aleteia.org/cc/flickr)

In leaked draft, Pope Francis calls on society to move away from fossil fuels and praises the climate movement saying it has  "inspired reflection." (Photo: Jeffrey Brunoe/Aleteia.org/cc/flickr)

In Leaked Draft, Pope Francis Takes 'Hard Core' Stance on Climate Debate

The Earth 'is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her,' pope encyclical warns

Lauren McCauley

In a lengthy and moving letter to Roman Catholic bishops leaked on Monday, Pope Francis unequivocally asserts that "human activity" is to blame for our planet's destruction, and the only solution is for humanity to change its "lifestyle" and "consumption."

The draft encyclical, published by Italian newspaper L'Espresso on Monday, three days before its intended release, is making waves among the international community as it boldly condemns both climate-deniers and carbon credit speculation, and upholds the growing climate movement and push to divest from fossil fuels.

"Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it," he wrote in the draft. "Numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … given off above all because of human activity."

Stop!

We Interrupt This Article with an Urgent Message!

Common Dreams is a not-for-profit news service. All of our content is free to you - no subscriptions; no ads. We are funded by donations from our readers. This media model only works if enough readers pitch in. We have millions of readers every month and, it seems, too many take our survival for granted. It isn't. Our critical Mid-Year fundraiser is going very slow - only 598 readers have contributed a total of $23,000 so far. We must raise $27,000 more before we can end this fundraising campaign and get back to focusing on what we do best.
If you support Common Dreams and you want us to survive, we need you.
Please make a tax-deductible gift to our Mid-Year Fundraiser now!

The letter was intended for release on Thursday, ahead of the pope's scheduled address to the United Nations in September and less than six months before the upcoming UN climate change summit in Paris. On Monday evening, the Vatican condemned the early release, and reportedly asked journalists not to publish details of the draft, saying it was not the final text.

The draft letter, addressed to bishops but intended as a wider statement on Catholic doctrine, takes aim at those who remain skeptical over the man-made causes of climate change, or those who believe that geo-engineering schemes and other technical advances will permit industrialized nations to continue business-as-usual.

"The attitudes that stand in the way of a solution, even among believers, range from negation of the problem, to indifference, to convenient resignation or blind faith in technical solutions," reads the text.

Translating the leaked encyclical, the Guardian reports:

At the start of the draft essay, the pope wrote, the Earth “is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking that we were her owners and dominators, authorised to loot her. The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things.”

He immediately makes clear, moreover, that unlike previous encyclicals, this one is directed to everyone, regardless of religion. “Faced with the global deterioration of the environment, I want to address every person who inhabits this planet,” the pope wrote. “In this encyclical, I especially propose to enter into discussion with everyone regarding our common home.”

According to the leaked document, the pope will praise the global ecological movement, which has “already travelled a long, rich road and has given rise to numerous groups of ordinary people that have inspired reflection”.

In a surprisingly specific and unambiguous passage, the draft rejects outright “carbon credits” as a solution to the problem. It says they “could give rise to a new form of speculation and would not help to reduce the overall emission of polluting gases”. On the contrary, the pope wrote, it could help “support the super-consumption of certain countries and sectors”.

The encyclical is not Pope Francis's first foray into the climate debate. In a message sent to the UN Climate Convention in Peru last December, he stated that addressing climate change is a "grave ethical and moral responsibility" and warned that "the time to find global solutions is running out."

Though the climate community had expected a call to action from the pope, in addition to statement on the connection between global inequality and climate change, the draft text was seen as a very significant contribution to the climate debate.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Historic Tropical Storm Fiona Sweeps Homes Into Ocean in Eastern Canada

"Climate change leads to warmer ocean water at higher latitudes," said one Canadian civil engineering professor. "A warmer future increases the probability that more intense storms will reach Canadian coasts."

Julia Conley ·


Federal Judge Allows 'Untenable' Plan to Send Juvenile Inmates to Angola Prison

"The move defies all common sense and best practices, and it will cause irrevocable damage to our youth and families," said one children's advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'Catastrophic': Arizona Judge Allows 1864 Abortion Ban to Go Into Effect

"No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom," said one rights advocate.

Julia Conley ·


US Progressives Express Solidarity With Iranian Protesters After Death of Mahsa Amini

"The right to choose belongs to us all, from hijabs to reproductive care," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Julia Conley ·


Critics of Louisiana LNG Project 'Hopeful' as Huge Sales Contracts Canceled

"The fight is not over," says one activist, but "from tax breaks to pollution and now to these recent financial downswings, we have all the evidence we need to understand that Driftwood will be a parasite."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo