|Pope Francis' encyclical on climate change is set to release by the end of June.|
From the United States to the Philippines, policy briefings, prayer vigils, and pilgrimages will take place to promote action regarding climate change.
As Pope Francis prepares to release his encyclical on climate change soon, Catholics are readying themselves to advocate for the environment and maximize the effect of the document.
Patrick Carolan, executive director of Franciscan Action Network, a Washington-based advocacy group formed by Franciscan religious orders, said, “This is such a powerful moment. We're asking ourselves, 'What would be the best way for us to support the faith community in getting this out and using it as a call to action?'"
Pope Francis will issue the encyclical by the end of June, with an eye toward the end-of-year United Nations climate change conference in Paris. He will be the first pope to address global warming in such a high-level teaching document.
Nancy Tuchman, director of the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Loyola University Chicago, said, "I think the real hope is that he says it like it is and tells us there has to be a call to action and it has to be immediate."
The institute is working to unite 28 U.S. Jesuit colleges and universities to be a common voice on climate change. It plans to collect papers and reflections from students, faculty, and staff on the encyclical and how they can be “one of its champions.”
In fact, Catholics worldwide are working to mobilize for positive change for the environment. Catholic Earthcare Australia, the ecology agency of the Australian Catholic bishops’ conference, will plan an event on the encyclical at the Australian Parliament and will publish a book on the encyclical for parish use. In the Philippines, the Archdiocese of Manila’s ecology ministry is asking bishops to encourage parishes to ring their church bells when the document in released.
Catholics around the world are excited to see the impact this encyclical has on public opinion and international policy regarding the environment.
"The social justice aspect, and the way climate change is going to affect the poor and underprivileged and less privileged—that's not the first thing people think about when they think about climate change," said Lou Leonard, a World Wildlife Fund vice president who specializes in climate change issues. "For those who see this primarily as an issue of polar bears or other impact on species—which is all really important—this is an opportunity to say this is as much a human issue as anything else."
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