Pope lashes out at environmental destruction
In his encyclical published on Thursday Pope Francis criticises the destruction of the environment and climate change. Never before has a papal document dedicated so much space to environmental issues, commentators write approvingly. They also commend the leader of the Catholic Church for criticising the frenzied consumerism of rich societies and pointing to their role in damaging the environment.
Encyclical deals with more than ecology
Above and beyond environmental protection Pope Francis's encyclical Laudato Si also deals with social problems, the conservative daily Večernji List writes in praise: "Human egoism leads to the impoverishment of creation and the neglect of the next generations. The pope has called for sustainable and holistic development, and admonishes that the people 'have paid the price for the bank bailouts'. The market generates consumer-oriented mechanisms, but they must not become a model for humanity. And what exactly does the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' mean today? It means that 20 percent of the world's population should not use so much of the world's resources that it amounts to robbing the rest of humanity and the coming generations. ... We are not dealing with two separate crises, of the environment on the one hand and society on the other, but a single complex socio-economic crisis. Francis's message changes the world, or at least attempts to."
Concrete proposals for environmental protection
The two popes before Pope Francis also drew attention to the risks of climate change, the liberal daily Sme points out, commenting that the encyclical is nonetheless unique: "Never in the entire history of papal documents has more space been dedicated to environmental protection. The criticism of the lacking balance of power [in current policies] that focuses on economic and technocratic solutions and ignores social solidarity and environmental awareness is also new. On all this the pope is not moralising on a general basis but on the contrary, being very concrete. The chapter on climate change is detailed and in line with the latest scientific research. Francis is adding a philosophical and theological aspect to this. … The question is whether the pope's words will fall on fertile ground. Unlike the politicians the pope doesn't have the power to push through his ideas. In the end they are just words. But: 'In the beginning was the word.'"
A teaching document against apathy
With his environmental encyclical Pope Francis shows that he also takes world ecology problems very much to heart, the liberal daily Kurier writes: "In the encyclical Francis calls on mankind to rethink the way it treats the environment. Specifically he talks of pollution, water shortages and cruelty to animals. And of the climate change caused by people (which conservative believers in particular are fond of denying with the argument that man can't change the climate). And the pope used an interesting image: if someone could observe the world from outside it, they would be pretty surprised. We should ask ourselves this question more often: what would an extra-terrestrial taking a holiday here make of us? Perhaps Pope Francis is just another 'naïve' person. But perhaps it's just that unlike other people he still cares about things."
Pope's appeal not just aimed at Catholics
Pope Francis called on the industrial nations to make an "ecological conversion" in his encyclical on the environment, and thus made history, the liberal daily Público comments: "At a time when several meetings and consultations on climate policy under the UN's aegis are coming up, this intervention by the pope takes on special meaning. … Not just because of the scope of the appeal, which is addressed to everyone: Catholics and non-Catholics alike. … The Laudato Si encyclical, which has already garnered much applause and criticism, presents - clearly bearing Francis's stamp - a resolute Vatican that is setting off in new directions."