Pope Francis: “We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth”

18 Jun 2015

After much anticipation, Pope Francis has issued his 180-page encyclical document on the topic of climate change in what appears to be a scathing attack on the human species’ reckless attitude to sustainability, telling his followers not to laugh at previous doomsday predictions.

Earlier this week, it had been suggested that the head of the Catholic Church would offer a stern defence of the proponents of the reality of climate change, but many were not aware of how scathing that defence would be.

According to the LA Times, the Pope’s teachings – entitled Laudato Si (Praise Be to You) – made it abundantly clear that future generations on this planet could be significantly harmed by our actions today.

“Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain,” Pope Francis wrote. “We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes.”

Poorer nations exploited

He also discussed the exploitation richer countries perpetuate against the poorer nations who, in many cases, are the sources of natural resources.

“The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned,” he wrote.

“In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.”

While having no authority over the governments of states, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church still have a considerable sway over their followers, which totals somewhere in the region of 1.5bn people worldwide.

The world’s consumerism needs to end

To turn around mankind’s fortune, Pope Francis wrote, we will need to drastically re-think our attitudes to consumerism.

“Humanity has changed profoundly, and the accumulation of constant novelties exalts a superficiality which pulls us in one direction,” he wrote. “It becomes difficult to pause and recover depth in life.

“If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with tedious monotony.”

Naysayers have responded to the pope’s message with a dismissal of his authority on the issue of climate change.

US presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said, following the issuing of the encyclical, “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

Pope Francis with followers, image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic