The Sunday Magazine

Meet the Canadian who wrote Pope Francis's climate change letter

Michael talks to Jesuit scholar Michael Czerny about how the Pope's moral urgency on climate change and the need to move away from consumerism, are both firmly rooted in theology.
Pope Francis delivers his blessing as children reach out to touch his hand during an audience with members of the Don Guanella charity organization, in the Pope Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015. (Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Just two weeks ago, the world was gearing up for the UN Climate Conference. But after the events of Friday, November 13, much of the focus is on preventing terrorist attacks. A massive rally planned for the eve of the conference, has been scuttled by police. But while Western leaders grapple with how to de-fang the threat of ISIS, one Western religious leader has already produced a manifesto on defusing the threat of climate change.

Pope Francis issued his second encyclical in June, one that has invested the global discussion on climate change, and poverty, with a heightened moral urgency. It's called "Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home". 

It exhorts people of faith to phase out fossil fuels, protect bio-diversity, reject our "throwaway culture", and overhaul the global economic system to bring justice to the world's poor. It has outraged hardline conservatives who wish the pope would just stick to the business of celebrating mass and condemning same-sex marriage. And it has put climate activists and progressives in the unusual position of saying that we should do what the pope tells us to.
Pope Francis delivers his speech in the Synod Hall during a conference on Modern Slavery and Climate Change at the Vatican. (Gregorio Borgia/Associated Press)
Montreal native Michael Czerny had a hand in producing this historic encyclical. Father Czerny is a Jesuit priest who works in the president's office of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, just his latest posting in a long and distinguished career of leading social justice organizations. He tells Michael how the Pope's moral urgency on climate change and the need to move away from consumerism are both firmly rooted in theology.
Canadian Jesuit Father Michael Czerny is with the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, the department that helped craft the first draft of the Pope's encyclical on the environment. (Richard Devey/CBC)


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