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Pope Francis issued a new call for climate change action on Wednesday, when he slammed the United Stated in particular as “irresponsible” on emissions compared to China. 

“The world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point,” the pope wrote in the 12-page “Laudate Deum,” which means “Praise God” in Latin. 

“If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries, we can state that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact,” he wrote. 

After taking square aim at the United States, Francis heightened the alarm about the “irreversible” harm to people and the planet already underway and lamented that once again, the world’s poor and most vulnerable are paying the highest price. The pope said, “The necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels, is not progressing at the necessary speed.”


Pope Francis shades his eyes from the sun at the Vatican

Pope Francis presides over mass to open the Synod of Bishops in St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

The document comes as an update to Pope Francis’ landmark 2015 encyclical on the environment titled “Laudato Si,” meaning “Praise Be.” In that 180-page encyclical, the head of the Catholic Church notably scolded climate change deniers and called for an “ecological conversion” among the faithful. 

In “Laudate Deum,” Francis praised the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for evoking “Laudato Si” this year in affirming, “our care for one another and our care for the earth are intimately bound together. Climate change is one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community. The effects of climate change are borne by the most vulnerable people, whether at home or around the world.” 

The new document was released on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the pontiff’s nature-loving namesake, and was aimed at spurring negotiators to commit to binding climate targets at the next round of United Nations talks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Using scientific data, sharp diplomatic arguments and a sprinkling of theological reasoning, Francis delivered a moral imperative for the world to transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy with measures that are “efficient, obligatory and readily monitored.”

Francis at Vatican gathering

Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)


“What is being asked of us is nothing other than a certain responsibility for the legacy we will leave behind, once we pass from this world,” he said.

“The United Arab Emirates will host the next Conference of the Parties (COP28). It is a country of the Persian Gulf known as a great exporter of fossil fuels, although it has made significant investments in renewable energy sources,” the pope wrote Wednesday. “Meanwhile, gas and oil companies are planning new projects there, with the aim of further increasing their production. To say that there is nothing to hope for would be suicidal, for it would mean exposing all humanity, especially the poorest, to the worst impacts of climate change.” 

Francis concluded the document by stating, “‘Praise God’ is the title of this letter. For when human beings claim to take God’s place, they become their own worst enemies.” 

Pope Francis blesses new cardinal at Vatican

Pope Francis assembled the “Synod on Synodality” on Oct. 4, 2023 at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Also Wednesday, the pope opened a large meeting at the Vatican to discuss the future of the Catholic Church, stating that “everyone” is welcome to the faith. 


Conservative Catholics have denounced Pope Francis’ objectives ahead of the annual assembly called the “Synod on Synodality,” according to the New York Times, as some cardinals are more critical of the papal embrace of more radical, secular and modern ideals, including considerations for same-sex unions and LGBTQ Catholics. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Danielle Wallace is a reporter for Fox News Digital covering politics, crime, police and more. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @danimwallace. 

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