9 things you never thought a pope would say about climate change

Pope Francis waves from the balcony of Carondelet Presidential Palace in Quito, Ecaudor during his eight-day visit to South America.
Credit: Martin Bernetti

Pope Francis just completed his tour around South America — and between communist crucifixes, coca leaves, challenging the wealthy, and apologizing for crimes committed against indigenous people in the region, you'd think he has enough on his plate. 

One of the many causes Francis has also championed is climate change, and he's taking that fight pretty seriously. The Vatican last month released a blistering encyclical condemning the world's inaction on environmental issues.

The nearly-200 page document urges governments, religious institutions, businesses, and people of all classes to take responsibility for fighting climate change.

And you can probably guess what the pope blames for the warming planet: the ever-widening gap between the wealthy and poor. 

Here are some of the memorable things Pope Francis has said in his battle for environmental issues:

"Biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor."


"Environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces."


“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”


Picture taken at the heavily polluted Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 10.


“This is our home being ruined. Especially for the poor.”


An Indian ragpicker picks up garbage from the polluted banks of a tributary of the Yamuna River in New Delhi on June 5.


“In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered in rubbish.”


“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”


“We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”


A meltwater lake seen under a glacier. Scientists believe that Greenland, with its melting ice caps and disappearing glaciers, is an accurate thermometer of global warming.


“The goods of the Earth are meant for everyone, and however much someone may parade his property, it has a social mortgage.”



“I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature.”

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