Francis highlights the importance of research in solving environmental crisis


A vendor holds a Pope Francis poster outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York (Victoria Pickering / Flickr)
A vendor holds a Pope Francis poster outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (Victoria Pickering / Flickr)
KC McGinnis | September 24, 2015

Pope Francis urged the U.S. Congress to work together for “our common home” during an address today in Washington.

In an hour long speech (full transcript here), the Holy Father followed the pattern laid out in his most recent encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, by addressing the interconnectedness between issues like poverty, immigration, wealth distribution and the family to care for the environment, and the potential for human ingenuity to help resolve the environmental crisis.

“I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play,” he said. “Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a ‘culture of care’ (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”

During his pontificate Francis has continued the thread laid out by his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II, who called for a “global ecological conversion“: a move away from what Benedict XVI called “a misuse of creation [that] begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves.” The current degradation of both the natural and the social environment is indicative of what Francis calls “the throwaway culture.”

To address this, Francis called for a “right use of natural resources” that contributes to the common good not only of job creation but to care for the earth, which the Pope has tied directly to care for the poor and needy. The Pope was confident that American academic and research institutions could use their skills and new technologies to “avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”

“I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead,” he said.

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