Jan 23, 2019 | Updated: 10:56 AM EST

The Pope's Forward-thinking Climate Stance Faces Conservative Opposition

Jan 20, 2015 07:31 PM EST


Pope Francis has been finding himself in warm―not holy―waters with conservatives ever since he recently announced the Catholic Church's stance on climate change. He's gone on to publicly state that our planet's altering landscape and atmosphere composition is not just a political issue, but a "human" one as well.  The currently appointed pontiff is in the midst of drafting an encyclical, a papal letter to be sent to the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, which will highlight how the church can catalyze positive climate change. But those within the church are questioning whether or not the leader of the faith should be getting involved.

Encyclicals represent one of the most important, influential text-based documents the Catholic Church uses to adopt new-aged changes. And, therefore, the drafting and acceptance of such drafts can create major changes within the church itself.

"I don't know if it [human activity] is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face," Pope Francis says. "We have in a sense taken over nature."

However, as forward-thinking as Pope Francis is, he is not the first pontiff to bring about the idea of using the Catholic Church's power to benefits our planet. In fact, in the 1990's Pope John Paul II was cited on many occasions as saying that there was a need to protect "God's creations" from the onslaught of human expansion.

Dating even further back, Pope Benedict was often toted with the moniker "The Green Pope" because of his passion for such environmental-savvy policies. Both Popes also shared the common thought that conservation is a "culture of life."

But this is not to say that the stone-hard purists won't have a thing-or-two to say about this papal drafting.

"For the most part, they are conservatives who have criticized other Catholics in the past for disagreeing with definitive statements in papal encyclicals," theologian at Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland, David Cloutier says. "They're scared that the document is going to say something definitive that they can't agree with. That will put them in a very difficult situation."

While conservatives within the church may press onward against conservation and green efforts led by the papacy, in the end it is Pope Francis who will have the final say. And though he has said that he will review the ammendment of a few added suggestions from those within the church, many expect a greener future for the Catholic Church come March this year, when the finalized draft of the encyclical will be released to the general public.

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