Elpidio V. Peria
16 March 2013

Much has been said about Pope Francis’ dual nature, his simple lifestyle and closeness to the poor in Buenos Aires yet being resistant about gay marriage and abortion. In spite of this seeming contradiction, his much-vaunted attachment to social justice does not appear to include concerns about the environment.

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, for all his aloofness to pastoral work, according to Matt Kasper and Jack Jenkins in the website http://www.thinkprogress.org has been called the “Green Pope,” and will be remembered for his consistent call for action on climate change and the impact it will have on the poor. He called for the international community to reach an agreement during the Durban United Nations Climate Change Conference, linked climate change to food insecurity on World Food Day in 2011 while also previously connecting climate change to water scarcity in his 2010 World Day of Peace Message.

Adriana Quintero in a posting in http://www.huffingtonpost.com added that Pope Benedict XVI called for less energy consumption, greater ecological sensitivity, improved energy efficiency and research into alternative forms of energy, aiming to transform the Vatican into the first carbon-neutral state installing $1.5 million in solar panels. Importantly, Benedict criticized the”economic and political resistance” to combating climate change and environmental degradation.

Ms. Quintero however is hopeful since his Papal name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi (circa 1181), is famous in Catholic dogma for his devotion to care for the poor and the environment. He was merited with the miracle of communicating with animals, especially birds, which explains why he’s typically photographed around them. St. Francis was also merited with the progressive ideology that aimed to move the Church away from building institutional power and back to their truest and basic purpose: serve and care for people and nature as God’s creations on earth.

It’s early days to really discern what kind of Pope the previous Jorge Sergio Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina will be, and his past actions may only give a clue to what he will really do, what with very serious problems of the Catholic Church, his old age, 76, with one functioning lung, but perhaps, indeed, he, or God, may yet surprise us. His press conference with the world media soon may be a good start for this process of watching and discerning what he will eventually be, especially in matters relating to the environment.


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