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Vatican calls for ‘cultural revolution’ to fight climate change

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The Vatican is once again trying to make climate action a key issue for Catholics, launching a program called the Laudato Si’ Action Platformnamed after the Pope letter 2015 which framed the protection of the environment as a spiritual mandate. New website calls on Catholics to eat less meat, use public transport and drive lessavoid single-use plastics and other wasteful habits, and participate in a “cultural revolution” to change their interaction with the natural environment and financial systems.

“Discerning a response to the ecological crisis is an act of deep care,” the website states. “The Laudato Si’ Goals guide our actions… Their holistic approach recognizes the planetary limits of all socio-economic systems and the human roots of ecological crisis. They call for a spiritual and cultural revolution to achieve integral ecology.

Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church since 2013, has made environmental awareness part of his mission for the Church. (Many American bishops, however, did not follow his example. Some American conservatives have even called him a “fake Christian.”) This new platform contains an emotional appeal to Catholics to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.

“Our Creator called the human family to be stewards of creation, but we have neglected that call. Our hotter, dirtier and deader planet increases the risk of suffering. The most vulnerable suffer first and foremost,” the website states.

Among the listed objectives of Laudato Si’ are:

  • “the adoption of renewable energies and energy self-sufficiency measures, the achievement of carbon neutrality, the protection of biodiversity, the promotion of sustainable agriculture and the guarantee of access to drinking water for all .”
  • “to promote eco-justice… Actions could include solidarity promotion projects, with particular attention given to vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, refugees, migrants and children at risk, the analysis and improvement of social systems and social service programs.”
  • “ethical investments, divestment from fossil fuels and any activity that is harmful to the planet and to people.”

The Church has supported several climate justice initiatives under Pope Francis. In 2020, 16 congregations of Dominican nuns collaboration with the investment bank Morgan Stanley to create a over $100 million “climate solutions fund” to support projects such as energy efficient technologies. Earlier this week, 10 Catholic groups described five moral standards for climate finance.

With over a billion Catholics around the world, we hope the Pope’s message will land on receptive ears.