Pope Francis Discusses Sustainable Development

Rachelle Peterson

Yesterday Pope Francis hosted a summit at the Vatican on the issues of global warming, sustainable development, and economic inequality. Speakers included the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon; economist Jeffrey Sachs; the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences Margaret Archer; and others. The summit, “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development, ” called for strengthening “the global consensus on the importance of climate change in the context of sustainable development” and building “a global movement to deal with climate change and sustainable development throughout 2015 and beyond.” The Pope also expressed concern about “the globalization of indifference” as actions “not respectful of nature” exacerbate economic inequality and “endanger solidarity with present and future generations.”

The summit precedes the release, expected in June, of a papal encyclical on sustainable development. In advance of the encyclical, many scholars have submitted material for the Pope to consider. On Monday, the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation released an open letter signed by scientists, theologians, and pastors asking the Pope to help protect the poor from onerous environmental regulations and to consider the scientific questions behind the anthropogenic global warming theory.  Some of the signatories have expressed concern that the models and data under consideration yield inaccurate depictions of the current climate. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences have also released a statement signed by a number of scholars warning of “unprecedented climate changes and ecosystem destruction” unless societies quickly “redirect” their “relationship with nature.”

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