EFFORTS to combat climate change have “proved ineffective” due to “powerful opposition” and a “general lack of interest” among the people of the world, Pope Francis has warned.
In a papal letter, the head of the world’s 1.5 billion Roman Catholics said the climate is rapidly changing due to human activity, which is not necessarily “geared to the common good”.
Development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels is aggravating the problem, he warned.
This has resulted in “sickness” in the soil, water, air and in all life forms.
In his encyclical, Pope Francis says our “common home” is “like a sister with whom we share our life”.
But he warns: “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.
“We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.
“This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor.”
He also urges people to consider the question: What kind of a world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?
The letter, titled of the encyclical, ‘Laudato si’ (Praised Be) was welcomed by aid agency Oxfam which said it reminded people that climate change was “first and foremost about people”.
“The gross and growing inequality between rich and poor has been made worse by the climate crisis,” Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken said.
“Only when world leaders heed the Pope’s moral leadership on these two defining issues, inequality and climate change, will our societies become safer, more prosperous and more equal.”
An Taisce said the message was “highly relevant” to Ireland, and was a reminder of the “urgent and compelling need for courageous political leadership”.
Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, said the encyclical urged people not to close their eyes to those most exposed to the consequences of environmental degradation.
“These are invariably the poorest communities and those who contribute least to the destruction of the natural environment.”