Pope Francis to Congress: take ‘courageous actions’ on climate change

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Pope Francis became the first Pontiff in history to address US Congress Thursday, raising awareness about moral issues including climate change. The Pope highlighted the United States and other nations’ social imperative to act for the climate, calling for, “a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps, and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.” He put the ball directly in the hands of those sitting in the House of Representatives chamber this morning, saying: “I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” Outside of Capitol Hill, thousands gathered on the National Mall to watch the “People’s Pope,” deliver his remarks, many of whom took part in a Moral Action on Climate Justice rally early this morning. Pope Francis then left the joint session of Congress and briefly addressed the masses on the National Mall, where he was welcomed with an eruption of cheers, tears and prayers. Later today, the momentum will continue with a number of events across the world, including a Light The Way candlelight vigils ahead of Pope Francis’ highly anticipated speech at the United Nations on Friday. Pope Francis’s groundbreaking speech in Washington builds on the Pontiff’s continued emphasis for taking climate action based on the morality of caring for those least prepared for the impacts of a world that warms to dangerous levels.

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Key Points

  • Pope Francis reminded US leaders that they, too, have a “role to play” in addressing an issue that impacts everyone on this planet. Pope Francis said he had “no doubt” that leaders in Congress and the White House can find the courage to implement a culture of care that combats poverty, restores dignity to the excluded, and “at the same time protects nature.”
  • Pope Francis’ emphasis on addressing on climate change is a moral call to action. Pope Francis’ remarks to Congress Thursday and his Encyclical on the environment earlier this year emphasize that taking on climate change is both morally and economically right. His remarks in Washington build on what he called an “urgent and compelling” need for policies that reduce carbon emissions by “replacing fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
  • While Pope Francis is recognized by many as the highest moral authority to take on climate change, his call to action is firmly grounded in science. Thousands of the the world’s leading scientists have come together in unprecedented agreement about the severity of the climate crisis and the consequences of failing to address it. The Pope, who is also a scientist, continues to fuse the moral and scientific drivers for helping all on Earth to avoid the worst consequences of a warming planet.

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Pope Quotes

  • “This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to ‘enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.’ We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”
  • “In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to ‘redirect our steps,’ and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play.
  • “Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a ‘culture of care’ and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.'”

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