Tony Gentile/Reuters
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis during a welcoming ceremony at the White House in Washington, Sept. 23, 2015.

Pope Francis to Obama: Act now to stem climate change

Pope Francis called for urgent action on climate change during his speech at the White House on Wednesday morning. 

During his first prepared remarks in the United States, Pope Francis made a strong pitch for battling climate change, calling the present a "critical moment in history."

Speaking to President Obama and the crowds on the South Lawn of the White House, the pope said that the warming planet "demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition" of how this affects "our children [and] the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them."

He continued, "Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation.”

The pontiff quoted his own encyclical on the environment, a papal document released earlier this year to global attention. In it, the pope called for a bold cultural revolution to correct what he calls the "structurally perverse" economic system of the rich exploiting the poor and destroying the planet.

"When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history," he said Wednesday. "We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about a 'sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change,' " he said, quoting his encyclical.

"To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note, and now is the time to honor it," Francis added, paraphrasing a line from the famous "I have a dream" speech.

During his trip to South America this summer, the pope highlighted the tensions between environment, business, and the plight of the poor in Ecuador. He appealed for better care of the Amazon rain forest and the indigenous people who live within it.

Not all American Catholics have joined Pope Francis's climate action campaign. Some US Catholic churches are leasing out their lands for drilling by oil and gas companies, despite the Pope's repeated calls to reduce fossil fuel use in order to combat climate change.

Climate change remains a hotly divisive issue in US politics. Climate change denier Rep. Paul Gosar (R) of Arizona has said he will boycott an address by Pope Francis to Congress on Thursday in protest of the pontiff's climate activism.

Last month, prominent Muslim scholars echoed the pope's call for climate action by asking world leaders to phase out their use of fossil fuels and called on Muslims to treat action on global warming as a religious duty.

On Wednesday, the pope reminded his secular audience of the theological roots of his environmental activism.

"We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us," he said. "As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home."

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Pope Francis to Obama: Act now to stem climate change
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today