On Monday, Italian magazine L’Espresso published a leaked draft of Pope Francis’ 192-page encyclical on climate change. The papal document has been eagerly anticipated by both Catholics and environmentalists since it was first announced in 2014, and translations of the leaked version offer a passionate and unequivocal stance on the issue: Action must be taken swiftly and unilaterally to prevent catastrophic impacts on the planet.
The very Earth itself, writes the Pope, “is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking that we were her owners and dominators, authorized to loot her. The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things.”
Papal encyclicals are rare documents issued by the head of the Catholic church, which claims 1.2 billion followers worldwide. Pope Francis’ encyclical is unique in that its content is intended for believers and non-believers alike. In addition to the copies distributed to Catholic officials, the media was also due to receive the encyclical on Thursday, June 18.
How L’Espresso was able to obtain a copy is still unknown. The Vatican has told Bloomberg that the leak is a “heinous act.”
Despite the Thursday embargo, media outlets worldwide are publishing translations of the text (which is not the final version of the encyclical, according to church officials). Joshua McElwee, a journalist with the National Catholic Reporter, tweeted that most Italian news agencies have opted to respect the embargo.
Yet the language of the papal encyclical is refreshingly direct, a fact that motivates Planet Experts to include translations throughout this article. For instance, Pope Francis declares clean drinking water “an essential human right” and advocates changes in both lifestyles and energy use to combat global warming:
“Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it,” the draft reads. “Numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases…given off above all because of human activity.”
The Pope also condemns apathy and denial:
“The attitudes that stand in the way of a solution, even among believers, range from negation of the problem, to indifference, to convenient resignation or blind faith in technical solutions,” according to a translation from The Huffington Post.
The Pope, who has long crusaded on social inequality issues, presents the climate problem as one with the poverty problem: “Today we cannot help but recognize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach, which must integrate justice in the discussions of the environment, to hear the cry of the earth as much as the cry of the poor.”
Francis directly condemns the more economically-advantaged countries of “making the problems or hiding the symptoms” of climate change. He also rejects solutions that include “carbon credits” that “could give rise to a new form of speculation and would not help to reduce the overall emission of polluting gases.”
Working together to meet and combat climate change could “unite the whole human family,” Francis writes, which “still has the ability to work together to build our common home.”