Pope’s forthcoming message on climate change likely will have huge impact
As you may already know, Pope Francis is expected to issue an encyclical this summer on environmental issues and climate change.
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that there’s not another person on Earth who can wield greater influence on the debate over these matters, especially here in America.
Consider THESE FACTORS, for instance:
The pope… can reach segments that the three primary messengers on climate change – environmentalists, Democratic politicians and scientists – cannot.
First, the pope can reach the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics with an unmatched power to convince and motivate. Religion, unlike any other institutional force in society, has the power to directly influence our values and beliefs.
Government regulations can influence behavior, but often without changing underlying values and motivations. But by connecting climate change to spiritual and religious values, and introducing notions of sin, people will have new and more powerful motivations to act. The pope can make the issue as personal as Sunday School. Once the pope’s message is out, Catholics will hear that message reinforced in homilies in their home parish…
But the pope’s reach extends far beyond his Catholic followers. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that the pope is extremely popular with both Catholics and non-Catholics. Americans are particularly fond of Pope Francis, with more than three-quarters (78%) giving him positive marks. In Europe, Catholics and non-Catholics view the pope with very similar acclaim.
His message will undoubtedly reach beyond the Catholics of the world, and has the potential to draw attention to the ongoing efforts of leaders in other denominations, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Orthodox Church, nicknamed the “Green Patriarch”). With the pope taking a stand on climate change, it could compel other religious leaders to make more public calls for action.