The Sunday Magazine

The Canadian who helped craft Pope Francis's statement on climate change will be our fourth cardinal

Pope Francis named Czech-born Canadian Jesuit priest Michael Czerny a cardinal last weekend. We revisit Michael Enright's 2015 interview with Czerny about Laudato Si — Francis's encyclical on the environment, which Czerny played an instrumental role in drafting.
Czech-born Canadian Jesuit priest Michael Czerny is one of 13 new cardinals recently announced by Pope Francis. (Richard Devey/CBC)

Last weekend, Pope Francis named 13 new cardinals — who one day, upon the eventual death or resignation of Francis, will select a new pope.

One of them is Michael Czerny — a 73-year-old Czech-born Jesuit priest who was raised in Montreal. Once the appointment becomes official on Oct. 5, 2019, he will be the fourth Canadian cardinal. 

For several years, Reverend Czerny has been one of Pope Francis's lieutenants, serving as the Vatican's Undersecretary of the Section for Migrants and Refugees. 

Pope Francis blesses worshipers at the end of the weekly general audience on May 8, 2019 at St. Peter's square in the Vatican. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images) (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

He also was instrumental in the drafting of one of Francis's most celebrated, controversial and debated public pronouncements — the papal encyclical called "Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home" in 2015.  

It exhorted people of faith to ramp up the fight against climate change, phase out fossil fuels, protect biodiversity, reject our "throwaway culture" and overhaul the global economic system to reduce economic inequality and bring justice to the world's poor. 

The encyclical outraged hardline conservatives who wish the pope would just stick to the business of celebrating mass and condemning same-sex marriage, and it put climate activists and progressives in the unusual position of saying that we should do what the pope tells us to.

The Sunday Edition's host Michael Enright spoke with Michael Czerny from the Vatican in November 2015 — a few months after the encyclical was published and just before the UN's 2015 climate talks that culminated with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Czerny spoke about how the Pope's moral urgency on climate change and the need to move away from consumerism are both firmly rooted in theology.

Click 'listen' above to hear the interview. 


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