On Tuesday, a high-ranking Vatican official declared that anthropogenic climate change was “poised to bring great ruin” to the planet, according to the Guardian. Cardinal Peter Turkson, the current president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, called upon the developed nations of the world to find solutions to climate-related change and to help protect poorer countries, which are more vulnerable to its adverse effects.
“Today, the ever-accelerating burning of fossil fuels that powers our economic engine is disrupting the earth’s delicate ecological balance on an almost unfathomable scale,” Cardinal Turkson said during a speech sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, translated into English by Vatican Radio. “And the lesson from the Garden of Eden still rings true today: Pride, hubris, self-centeredness are always perilous, indeed destructive.”
Though praising the power of industrial development to improve the quality of human life and lift millions of people out of poverty, Turkson drew a direct line between the promise of industrial development and the threat of environmental catastrophe. “Remarkable scientific, technological, and economic progress has significant numbers enjoying life spans, livelihoods, and lifestyles unimaginable for our ancestors,” he said. “But this progress has its dark sides and unacceptable costs.”
Pope Francis plans to give two speeches on the environment this year, including an encyclical slated for June and an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September. On both occasions, Pope Francis is expected to preach sustainable development as a moral obligation of all people of faith.
“A Christian who does not protect creation,” Pope Francis said during a mass last January, “is a Christian who does not care about the work of God,” according to Vatican Radio.