Pope Backs Climate Change Action In White House Remarks

He's got the whole world on his mind

President and Pope

President and Pope

President Obama and Pope Francis shake hands after the President's welcoming remarks.AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Pope Francis' first visit to the United States is causing a stir in so many ways. Drones are grounded, traffic is snarled, raccoons are on the loose. But the crowds of thousands gathered to catch a glimpse of the religious figure are mostly interested in what he has to say. In his first public remarks in the United States at the White House this morning, the pontiff took the opportunity to praise President Obama's environmental efforts to take action against climate change.

In his speech, the pope said:

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. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. ... Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.

The remarks aren't a complete surprise. President Obama has made no secret of the fact that combatting climate change is one of his primary goals before he leaves office. And the Pope's wrote an encyclical in June that framed environmental action as a moral imperitive. The encyclical, Laudato Si was quoted by the Pope in his remarks today. It is likely to be referenced again tomorrow, when the Pope addresses a joint session of Congress.