Pope 'to call for climate change action'

He writes on human role in crisis in document leaked ahead of its release

ROME - Pope Francis offers a broad vision of an endangered planet, partly blaming human activity and fossil fuels for climate change while calling for people of all religions to take swift action, according to a leaked draft of his much-awaited environmental encyclical that has been posted online by an Italian magazine.

The unauthorised release of the 192-page draft, published by L'Espresso on Monday, angered officials at the Vatican, who warned that the document did not represent the final version of Pope Francis' encyclical, which remains embargoed from publication until tomorrow.

In the leaked document, the Pope often writes eloquently, citing scientific evidence about the human role in global warming. He repeats his familiar themes in calling on people to move away from a consumerist model that he said is depleting resources, to the detriment of the poor, and live simpler lives. He also calls on governments to work together for solutions at the global, national and local level - while at times focusing on specifics, like his opposition to carbon credits.

"In this encyclical," he writes, "I intend especially to engage in a dialogue with everyone about our common home."

Encyclicals - papal teaching letters to the Roman Catholic faithful - often fail to generate much outside attention. But the Pope's pronouncement on the environment and the poor has been eagerly awaited, especially by scientists and environmentalists, as a major event. Seizing on the global interest, the Vatican prepared a careful rollout of the encyclical, which is titled "Laudato Sii", or "Be Praised". Bishops around the world have been sent instructions on how to spread the Pope's message to the world's more than one billion Catholics.

Journalists accredited with the Vatican are supposed to receive official copies tomorrow morning so they can review the contents before the embargo is lifted at midday, after a news conference.

It was unclear how similar, or not, the final, official document will be to the leaked draft - or at what stage of the process the draft was written. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi released a short statement calling on the embargo to be respected: "Please note that it is not the final text."

The drafting process has taken more than a year. In the interim, Pope Francis has spoken about the need to protect "creation".

Speaking in January, he described global warming as "mostly" a human-made phenomenon and said that "man has slapped nature in the face".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2015, with the headline 'Pope 'to call for climate change action''. Print Edition | Subscribe