Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis urges the richer world to make changes in lifestyle and energy consumption to avert the unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem.

Environmentalists hope the message will spur on nations ahead of the UN climate conference in Paris in December.

But parts of the document, leaked earlier this week, have already been criticised by some US conservatives.

It has been dismissed by two Republican presidential candidates.

Humans to blame

The encyclical, named ?Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home?, aims to inspire everyone ? not just Roman Catholics ? to protect the Earth.

The 192-page letter, which is the highest level teaching document a pope can issue, lays much of the blame for global warming on human activities.

Pope Francis writes that: ?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.?

He criticises what he calls a ?collective selfishness?, but says that there is still time to stop the damage, calling for an end to consumerism and greed.

?Moral approach?

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi launched the pontiff?s second encyclical at a news conference on Thursday.

The teaching is more evidence of a pontiff determined to act as a catalyst for change, and a powerful diplomatic player on the world stage, says the BBC?s religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt.

The release comes six months before international leaders gather in Paris to try to seal a deal to reduce carbon emissions.

It has been widely welcomed by environmental groups, with WWF president Yolanda Kakabadse saying it ?adds a much-needed moral approach? to the debate on climate change.

Greenpeace leader Kumi Naidoo highlighted passages calling for policies that reduce carbon emissions, including by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.

But a leak of the document, published by Italy?s L?Espresso magazine on Tuesday, got a frosty response from sceptical conservatives in America, including two Roman Catholic presidential candidates.

Jeb Bush said he did not get his economic policy from his bishops, cardinals or pope ? so why his policy on the environment?

Meanwhile Rick Santorum questioned whether the Pope was credible on the issue of climate science.

However, many academics have welcomed the pontiff?s input.

Prof Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford in the UK, said: ?If Pope Francis can?t speak up for our unborn grandchildren, then God help us all.?

BBC

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