Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action. Citing scientific consensus that we are witnessing a "disturbing warming" of the Earth's climate, Francis called for a "bold cultural revolution" to halt humanity's spiral into self-destruction. "There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day,” the Pope said.
The vision that Francis outlined in the 184-page encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He described a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment, for which he blamed apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness. The most vulnerable victims are the world’s poorest people, he declared, who are being dislocated and disregarded. Francis' statement came Thursday in the form of an encyclical, a letter traditionally addressed from St. Peter's Square to the more than 1 billion Catholics across the globe. Derived from the Greek word for "circle," an encyclical is among the church's most authoritative teaching documents. But Francis has set his sights beyond the circle of his church.
With an eye toward several key climate change summits scheduled for later this year, the Pope said his letter is addressed to every person living on this planet. "I would like to enter a dialogue with all people about our common home," Francis said.
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