As the world celebrates Earth Day on Wednesday, Pope Francis is planning to use one of the highest forms of papal expression — an encyclical — to promote climate action to save the planet as a moral and religious imperative.
In recent weeks, Vatican officials have outlined what the document will say and are choreographing its release — perhaps as early as June — for maximum global impact beyond the Roman Catholic Church’s 1.2 billion members.
Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, who chairs a panel dealing with environmental issues for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the encyclical has “gone to the translators, so it’s at the end of its birthing process.”
First on the promotional agenda is an April 28 Vatican conference where United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon will be a keynote speaker. The goal is to advance the morality argument that is a theme of the encyclical.
Then on successive days beginning Sept. 23, the pope will visit the White House, address a joint session of Congress — the first pontiff to do so — and address the U.N. General Assembly at the beginning of a summit on sustainable development.