Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, has taken a very strong stance recently on the need to address climate change, to protect the environment and respect “God’s creation.”
In an address at the University of Molise in Italy, Pope Francis talked about deforestation practices that have destroyed much of the world’s rainforests in places like the Amazon Basin.
Francis told the crowd that:
“When I look at America, also my own homeland (South America), so many forests, all cut, that have become land … that can longer give life. This is our sin, exploiting the Earth and not allowing her to give us what she has within her.”
When it comes to climate change, these rainforests are very important and act as large “carbon sinks” breathing in the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and storing them for a very long time. When these rainforests are cut down and burned to make way for things like massive industrial cattle farms, that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere and the ability for that rainforest to absorb more greenhouse gas literally goes up in smoke.
Earlier this year Pope Francis made the biblical case for the need to address climate change, warning Catholic followers that they must, “Safeguard Creation. Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”
Francis elaborated on this point passionately, saying that:
“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.”
“… when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”
With an estimated 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, this is a powerful messenger and a very welcome voice in the effort to see a global solution to address the threat of global warming.