Pope urges revolution to save Earth, fix 'perverse' economy

Pope Steers Church Focus To Climate Change With Encyclical

VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a sweeping environmental manifesto aimed at spurring concrete action, Pope Francis called Thursday for a bold cultural revolution to correct what he described as a "structurally perverse" economic system where the rich exploit the poor, turning Earth into an "immense pile of filth."

Francis framed climate change as an urgent moral issue in his eagerly anticipated encyclical, blaming global warming on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the poor most.

Citing Scripture, his predecessors and bishops from around the world, the pope urged people of every faith and even no faith to undergo an awakening to save God's creation for future generations.

33 PHOTOS
Pope Francis
See Gallery
Pope urges revolution to save Earth, fix 'perverse' economy
Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives for his general audience at St Peter's square on June 17, 2015 at the Vatican. (Photo credit ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
The front of the popemobile is covered by scout's scarves as Pope Francis greets the crowd during an audience to the Italian Catholics Scouts (Agesci) at St Peter's square on June 13, 2015 at the Vatican. (Photo credit FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 05: Pope Francis attends the Easter Mass at St Peter's Square on April 5, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday morning, despite the cold and the rain, to take part in Solemn Mass with Pope Francis in celebration of Easter. Following the Liturgy, the Holy Father gave the traditional Blessing Urbi et Orbi- to the City ,of Rome, and to the World. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 05: A general view during the Easter Mass on April 5, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday morning, despite the cold and the rain, to take part in Solemn Mass with Pope Francis in celebration of Easter. Following the Liturgy, the Holy Father gave the traditional 'Blessing Urbi et Orbi'- to the City ,of Rome, and to the World. (Photo by Giulio Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 05: Pope Francis attends the Easter Mass on April 5, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday morning, despite the cold and the rain, to take part in Solemn Mass with Pope Francis in celebration of Easter. Following the Liturgy, the Holy Father gave the traditional 'Blessing Urbi et Orbi'- to the City ,of Rome, and to the World. (Photo by Giulio Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 05: Pope Francis greets the faithful following the Easter Mass on April 5, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday morning, despite the cold and the rain, to take part in Solemn Mass with Pope Francis in celebration of Easter. Following the Liturgy, the Holy Father gave the traditional 'Blessing Urbi et Orbi'- to the City ,of Rome, and to the World. (Photo by Giulio Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN, APRIL 5: Worshippers gather at St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis celebrates the Easter Mass in Vatican City on April 5, 2015. Thousands of worshippers from different countries attend the Easter Mass despite the heavy rain. (Photo by Baris Seckin/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 05: Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he delivers his 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing message from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica at the end of the Easter Mass on April 5, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday morning, despite the cold and the rain, to take part in Solemn Mass with Pope Francis in celebration of Easter. Following the Liturgy, the Holy Father gave the traditional 'Blessing Urbi et Orbi'- to the City ,of Rome, and to the World. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis kisses the ampulla containing the blood of San Gennaro (Saint Januarius, patron of Naples) next to cardinal Crescenzio Sepe (L), archbishop of Naples at the Duomo as part of his pastoral visit on March 21, 2015 in Naples. Hundreds of thousands of people waving Vatican flags greeted Pope Francis as he headed deep into mafia territory, visiting jailbirds and the poor in Naples amid heightened security. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - OCTOBER 30: Pope Francis attends an audience with President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz at the Apostolic Palace on October 30, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will speak before the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on November 25th, during its plenary assembly. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) wears a plastic poncho as he waves to well wishers after a mass in Tacloban on January 17, 2015. Pope Francis will spend an emotional day in the Philippines on January 17 with survivors of a catastrophic super typhoon that claimed thousands of lives, highlighting his concern over climate change. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 02: Pope Francis leads Mass with members of the institutes of Consecrated Life at St. Peter's Basilica on February 2, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pontiff further urged the bishops to pay special attention to vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, saying that they need 'adequate training' throughout their ministry. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
METRO MANILA, PHILIPPINES - 2015/01/18: Pope Francis is in his 5-day trip to the Philippines for the first time from January 15 to 19. The pontiff's trip will be highlighted by visits to Haiyan-struck areas in the Visayas region, South of Manila. (Photo by John Jerome E. Ganzon/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles in front of a videocamera as he take part in a video conference to mark the end of the IV Scholas Occurrentes World Educational Congress, at the Vatican, on February 5, 2015. The 'Scholas Occurrentes' organization is an international project based in Argentina that brings together schools and educational networks from different cultures and beliefs. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JANUARY 28: Pope Francis smiles as he receives from a newly married couple a figurine featuring himself, during his audience at the Paul VI Hall on January 28, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Speaking during the weekly General Audience, the Pope called on fathers to be present in the lives of their children pointing out that the absence of a 'father figure' can have grave consequences. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis holds a St. Therese's Icon during a press conference aboard a plane during his trip to the Philippines on January 15, 2015. Pope Francis arrived in the Philippines on January 15 for a five-day trip in the Catholic Church's passionate and chaotic Asian heartland that is tipped to attract a world-record papal crowd. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - NOVEMBER 26: Pope Francis attends his weekly audience in St. Peter's Square on November 26, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During today's General Audience Pope Francis told pilgrims the Church is on a continuing journey towards heaven. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - OCTOBER 02: Pope Francis kisses a young kid as he arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience on October 2, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the audience the Pontiff said the Church is not without sin because it is made up of sinners. Priests, sisters, bishops, cardinals and even Popes are sinners. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis speaks during the audience to the Vatican employees, on December 22, 2014 in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - MAY 26: (ISRAEL OUT) Pope Francis prays by the Western Wall on May 26, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. Pope Francis arrived in Israel on Sunday afternoon, a day after landing in the Middle East for his first visit to the Holy Land. During his visit to the West Bank the Pontiff addressed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as 'unacceptable' and urged both sides to find courage in seeking a peaceful solution. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Pope Francis kisses a boy as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's Square at the Vatican on February 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis loses his 'papalina' cup as he catches a baseball ball thrown by a faithful at the end of his weekly audience at St. Peter's Square on September 24, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. During his General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis reflected on his Apostolic Voyage to Albania. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis smiles as he wear a military Alpine hat upon his arrival at St.Peter's square for the weekly general audience on March 5, 2014. The pontiff today has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying 'no-one else has done more' to root out paedophilia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - DECEMBER 17: Pope Francis blows out the candles on his birthday cake during his general audience at St Peter's square on December 17, 2014 at the Vatican City, Vatican. (Photo by Evren Atalay/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Pope Francis caresses a child during the audience to the Vatican employees, on December 22, 2014 in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis gestures in St.Peter's square at Vatican during his weekly general audience on March 5, 2014. Pope Francis has defended the Catholic Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, saying 'no-one else has done more' to root out paedophilia. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with the Prime Minister of Romania Victor Ponta (R) as his wife and European Parliament Member Daciana Sarbu (L) looks on during a private audience in the pontiff's studio at the Vatican on March 1, 2014. AFP PHOTO / POOL / ALESSANDRA TARANTINO (Photo credit should read ALESSANDRA TARANTINO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 23: Pope Francis drinks mate as he holds his weekly audience on April 23, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pilgrims have started to arrive in St. Peter's Square for the Canonization ceremony for Pope John XXIII and John Paul II, which will take place on Sunday 27th. (Photo by Giulio Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets a child dressed up as a pope as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on February 26, 2014. AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO. RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / OSSERVATORE ROMANO' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS (Photo credit should read OSSERVATORE ROMANO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - FEBRUARY 21: Pope Francis greets cardinals as he arrives at the Synod Hall for the morning session of Extraordinary Consistory on the themes of Family on February 21, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Francis will create 19 new cardinals during his first consistory on February 22. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis salutes the crowd as he arrives for his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on February 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis is welcomed by faithfuls while arriving for a visit to the parish of San Tommaso on the outskirts of Rome on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - APRIL 05: Pope Francis attends the Easter Mass on April 5, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter's Square on Sunday morning, despite the cold and the rain, to take part in Solemn Mass with Pope Francis in celebration of Easter. Following the Liturgy, the Holy Father gave the traditional 'Blessing Urbi et Orbi'- to the City ,of Rome, and to the World. (Photo by Giulio Origlia/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The document released Thursday was a stinging indictment of big business and climate doubters alike, meant to encourage courageous changes at U.N. climate negotiations later this year, in domestic politics and in everyday life.

"It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress," he writes. "Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress."

Environmental scientists said the first-ever encyclical, or teaching document, on the environment could have a dramatic effect on the climate debate, lending the moral authority of the immensely popular Francis to an issue that has long been cast in purely political, economic or scientific terms.

"This clarion call should guide the world toward a strong and durable universal climate agreement in Paris at the end of this year," said Christiana Figueres, the U.N.'s top climate official. "Coupled with the economic imperative, the moral imperative leaves no doubt that we must act on climate change now."

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist, said the encyclical is a "game-changer in making people think about this."

"It's not politics anymore," he said, adding that science is often difficult to understand but that people respond to arguments framed by morality and ethics.

The energy lobby was quick to criticize the encyclical's anti-fossil fuel message.

"The simple reality is that energy is the essential building block of the modern world," said Thomas Pyle of the Institute of Energy Research, a conservative free-market group. "The application of affordable energy makes everything we do — food production, manufacturing, health care, transportation, heating and air conditioning — better."

Francis said he hoped his effort would lead ordinary people in their daily lives and decision-makers at the Paris U.N. climate meetings to a wholesale change of mind and heart, saying "both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor" must now be heard.

"This vision of 'might is right' has engendered immense inequality, injustice and acts of violence against the majority of humanity, since resources end up in the hands of the first comer or the most powerful: the winner takes all," he writes. "Completely at odds with this model are the ideals of harmony, justice, fraternity and peace as proposed by Jesus."

The encyclical "Laudato Si," (Praise Be) is 191 pages of pure Francis.

It's a blunt, readable booklet full of zingers that will make many conservatives and climate doubters squirm, including in the U.S. Congress, where Francis will deliver the first-ever papal address in September. It has already put several U.S. presidential candidates on the hot seat since some Republicans, Catholics among them, doubt the science behind global warming and have said the pope should stay out of the debate.

"I don't think we should politicize our faith," U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, a Catholic convert, said on the eve of the encyclical's release. "I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting into the political realm."

Yet one of Francis' core points is that there really is no distinction between human beings, their faith and the environment.

"Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth," he writes.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, whose office wrote the first draft of the encyclical, acknowledged that the pope was no expert in science, although he did work as a chemist before entering the seminary. But he said Francis was fully justified in speaking out about an important issue and had consulted widely. He asked if politicians would refrain from talking about science just because they're not scientific experts.

Francis accepts as fact that the world is getting warmer and that human activity is mostly to blame.

"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth," he writes.

Citing the deforestation of the Amazon, the melting of Arctic glaciers and the deaths of coral reefs, he rebukes "obstructionist" climate doubters who "seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms." And he blames politicians for listening more to oil industry interests than Scripture or common sense.

He praises a "less is more" lifestyle, one that shuns air conditioners and gated communities in favor of car pools, recycling and being in close touch with the poor and marginalized. He calls for courageous, radical and farsighted policies to transition the world's energy supply from fossil fuels to renewable sources, saying mitigation schemes like the buying and selling of carbon credits won't solve the problem and are just a "ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors."

What is needed, he says, is a "bold cultural revolution."

"Nobody is suggesting a return to the Stone Age, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur," Francis writes.

Some have dismissed the Argentine pope as pushing what they call Latin American-style socialism, but he answered those critics just this week, saying it was not a sign of communism to care for the poor.

Within the church, many conservative Catholics have questioned the pope's heavy emphasis on the environment and climate change over other issues such as abortion and marriage.

Francis does address abortion and population issues briefly in the encyclical, criticizing those in the environmental movement who show concern for preserving nature but not human lives. The Catholic Church has long been at odds with environmentalists over how much population growth degrades the environment.

John Schellnhuber, the scientist credited with coming up with the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), says it's a "myth" that a growing population is responsible for environmental decay.

"It's not poverty that destroys the environment," he told the press conference launching the document. "It's wealth, consumption and waste. And this is reflected in the encyclical."

___

Zoll and Borenstein reported from New York. Associated Press writers Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden, and Daniela Petroff in Vatican City contributed to this report.

___

Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield ; Rachel Zoll at www.twitter.com/rzollAP and Seth Borenstein at www.twitter.com/borenbears

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.