from the you-put-your-religion-in-my-science dept.
The Guardian reports that following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, Pope Francis plans to publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds. "A papal encyclical is rare," says Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences who revealed the pope's plans when he delivered Cafod’s annual Pope Paul VI lecture. "It is among the highest levels of a pope’s authority. It will be 50 to 60 pages long; it’s a big deal." The encyclical will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners. Within Catholicism in recent times, an encyclical is generally used for significant issues, and is second in importance only to the highest ranking document now issued by popes, an Apostolic Constitution. “Just as humanity confronted revolutionary change in the 19th century at the time of industrialization, today we have changed the natural environment so much," says Sorondo. "If current trends continue, the century will witness unprecedented climate change and destruction of the ecosystem with tragic consequences.”
Francis’s environmental radicalism is likely to attract resistance from Vatican conservatives and in rightwing church circles, particularly in the US – where Catholic climate sceptics also include John Boehner, Republican leader of the House of Representatives and Rick Santorum, the former Republican presidential candidate. “There will always be 5-10% of people who will take offence. They are very vocal and have political clout," says Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant. "This encyclical will threaten some people and bring joy to others. The arguments are around economics and science rather than morality." Francis will also be opposed by the powerful US evangelical movement, says Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has declared the US environmental movement to be “un-biblical” and a false religion. “The pope should back off,” says Beisner. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”