Pope Francis has ambitious environmental plans for 2015. Come March, he will deliver a 50 to 60-page edict urging his 1.2 billion Catholic followers to take action against climate change. The Pontiff will make his announcement during his visit to the Philippine city of Tacloban, which was ravaged by typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in 2013.
But within his global congregation, many conservative Catholics are expected to oppose the pope’s environmental views.
The message comes months in advance of the next United Nations climate meeting, which is slated to begin November 2015 in Paris. The pope’s lead scientific adviser Bishop Marcelo Sorondo, said that the pope’s message to his bishops, called an encyclical, is supposed to influence world leaders as they make their final recommendations after 20 years of negotiating how to reduce global carbon emissions, The Guardian reported. “The idea is to convene a meeting with leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate,” Sorondo said to Cafod, the Catholic development agency, of the pope’s plans.
Francis has previously pointed to the environment as being “one of the greatest challenges of our time,” and he says that Catholics have a moral and scientific obligation to protect it. But the move to publish an encyclical goes beyond offering a soundbite. “A papal encyclical is rare. It is among the highest levels of a pope’s authority,” Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant, said to The Guardian. The pope will distribute the lengthy document to 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will then share the message with their congregations in churches across the world.