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Pope’s new encyclical will provoke backlash, says Peruvian archbishop

The Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru has said that Pope Francis must prepare himself for criticism following the publication of his encyclical on the environment.

Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, told Catholic News Service: “(The encyclical) will have many critics, because they want to continue setting rules of the game in which money takes first place. We have to be prepared for those kinds of attacks."

The archbishop said that there would controversy once people had read the Pope’s new encyclical because resisting the “throwaway culture" by being satisfied with less means “putting money at the service of people, instead of people serving money."

Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on ecology and climate is expected to send a strong moral message – one message that could make some readers uncomfortable, some observers say.

“The encyclical will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people’s life and health," Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno said.

“Pope Francis has repeatedly stated that the environment is not only an economic or political issue, but is an anthropological and ethical matter," he said. “How can you have wealth if it comes at the expense of the suffering and death of other people and the deterioration of the environment?"

The encyclical, to be published June 18, is titled “Laudato Sii" (“Praised Be"), the first words of St Francis’ “Canticle of the Creatures."

Although Archbishop Barreto was not involved in the drafting of the encyclical, he worked closely with then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2007 on a document by the Latin American bishops’ council that included an unprecedented section on the environment.

The encyclical is not expected to be a theological treatise or a technical document about environmental issues, but a pastoral call to change the way people use the planet’s resources so they are sufficient not only for current needs, but for future generations, observers said.

The document “will emphasise that the option for stewardship of the environment goes hand in hand with the option for the poor," said Carmelite Father Eduardo Agosta Scarel, a climate scientist who teaches at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and the National University of La Plata in Buenos Aires.

“I think the Pope wants us to become aware of this," said Father Scarel, who was involved in preparatory consultations about the encyclical. “He is aiming at a change of heart. What will save us is not technology or science. What will save us is the ethical transformation of our society."

The pontiff probably foreshadowed the encyclical during his first public Mass as Pope on March 19, 2013, Father Agosta said. In his homily, he said, “Let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment."

Although the document will be published in the wake of a seminar on climate change in April at the Vatican, it will not be limited to that issue and will probably focus on the relationship between people and their environment, Archbishop Barreto said.

“What the Pope brings to this debate is the moral dimension," said Anthony Annett, climate change and sustainable development adviser to the Earth Institute at Columbia University and to the nonprofit Religions for Peace. “His unique way of looking at the problem, which is deeply rooted in Catholic social teaching, resonates with people all across the world."

Annett called the timing of the encyclical “extremely significant."

A month after it is published, global representatives will meet at a conference on financing for development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In September, the Pope will address the United Nations at a session that is likely to see the approval of a new set of global development objectives, the Sustainable Development Goals, which include environmental criteria.

And in December, negotiators and world leaders will converge on Paris to finish hammering out a treaty aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Some politicians have already questioned the Pope’s credentials for wading into the issue of climate change, but that is only one of several environmental problems the Pope is likely to address, said David Kane, a Maryknoll lay missioner in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, who works with Maryknoll’s Faith-Economics-Ecology Program.

The Pope has spoken out in the past on the “throwaway culture, both of material goods that we buy and use for a few months and then throw out, and also throwaway people," he said.

Kane hopes the encyclical will help people understand that overusing resources, from forests to fish to water, results in scarcity that can both increase and be exacerbated by climate change. He expects Pope Francis will remind people of the responsibility of caring for God’s creation.

“Whether you think climate change is a problem or not, you cannot deny that running out of fish, oil, water and other resources is a really big problem. The solution is a radical change in our concept of what makes a person happy. We need to move away from the idea that the more things we have, the happier we’ll be," Kane said.



  1. DPJ Reply

    Or perhaps His Holiness will have backlash because many, and it’s growing, people have doubts about man made “global warming” or “climate change”. Does the Pope realize he may be wrong too? Not everyone who questions climate change is evil and certainly the majority of us who do have no financial gain in it it at all.

    1. James Mignerey Reply

      No, it is not “growing”. If you listen to the wrong people and really don’t know what the true science is, then you “doubt”. The people who ” doubt” are not the people who know. The vast, vast , vast majority of respected scientists (not the 2% who are paid to say what you want to hear) tell you the truth and tell the Pope the truth. He has enough sense and care for God’s world to follow their advice. You and those few like you may not be “evil”, but not learning what the facts really are is an insult to the planet, to God, and to the Pope.

    2. Helen Mathieson Reply

      Pope Francis stated “How can you have wealth if it comes at the expense of the suffering and death of other people and the deterioration of the environment”….He’s also speaking about the worlds throwaway culture……I didn’t read in his statement anything about climate change…

  2. Wilfred Camilleri Reply

    Nothing wrong with making better use of resources. The problem is when the darling code words (that is global warming and climate change) of certain segments of society are used to redistribute wealth and to extract more taxes from people by greedy governments who are beholden to NGOs and special interest groups. Neither global warming nor climate change have been proven and the link between so-called greenhouse gases and unproven global warming is tenuous at best and fraudulent at worst.

  3. Wilfred Camilleri Reply

    If governments and the Church want people to change their lifestyle for the greater good of humanity, they should be honest about it and say that it’s what they want to do instead of using bogus and alarmist crisis! Above all, the Church should not be duped by the UN whose agenda is to implement an unelected and unrepresentative world government run out of UN Headquarters by nameless and corrupt bureaucrats using the pretense of Global Warming and Climate Change! The Church has much to lose if it aligns itself with the UN’s agenda or is seen as supporting it……

  4. James Mignerey Reply

    Think somebody is seeing too many black helicopters. Please return to the Mother Ship and leave our world and Pope alone.

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