Pope Francis Says Tech Can Help Solve Climate Change In Address To Congress

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Pope Francis addresses Congress

Pope Francis addresses Congress

Pope Francis addressed the U.S. Congress on Thursday, the first time the leader of the Catholic Church has ever done so. His speech was wide-ranging and included another call to action on climate change.AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Pope Francis just finished delivering his first address to the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. — the first such speech to a joint-session of Congress by the leader of the Catholic Church in history — and he once again prominently referenced the need for dialog and action on climate change. As the Pope said in his address (via Vox):

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. "Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good." This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to "enter into dialogue with all people about our common home" (ibid., 3). "We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all."

Pope Francis also said he believed that the forces of American technology and research could be used to help combat the effects of climate change. As he explained in his remarks:

"In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to "redirect our steps," and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a "culture of care" and "an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature." "We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology...to devise intelligent ways of... developing and limiting our power"; and to put technology "at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral". In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead."

The address, which came a day after Pope Francis made similar remarks at the White House, was wide-ranging and focused on numerous other subjects beyond climate change, including economic disparity, violence, ending the death penalty, and even the damaging effects of some religious ideologies.

Pope Francis was widely applauded by lawmakers from both parties Congress throughout the address, but whether they follow up and act in a meaningful way on his pronouncements is another story. Earlier this week, Democrats in the Senate introduced a bill aimed at putting some of President Obama's proposals on combating climate change, which include more aggressive annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But with Republicans controlling the House of Representatives, it's highly unlikely the bill will be passed into law, as The New York Times reported.