On Monday, the Pope delivered a proclamation from on high. Literally.
Speaking with reporters aboard a charter plane above areas devastated by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and José, Pope Francis spoke out about climate change.
“Those who deny [climate change] must go to the scientists and ask them,” the Pope said. “They speak very clearly.”
The Pope also called out leaders and politicians to join forces in the global fight against climate change.
“They decide and history will judge those decisions,” he said of world leaders, adding: “When you don’t want to see, you don’t see.”
This was not the first time the Pope has spoken out about climate change.
In 2015, Francis published a six chapter encyclical (a letter sent to Roman Catholic bishops) on climate change, entitled: “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.” Last year, the Pope suggested that caring for the environment should be added to the list of Christian works of mercy.
The pope has made a point of linking climate change to other global issues, such as the refugee crisis and the battle to end extreme poverty. Global Citizen campaigns on refugees and climate change. You can take action here.
“Global warming continues,” he said in 2016. “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.”
“Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis,” he added. “The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.”
The Pope’s words have also led to action. For example, after the Pope spoke about climate change on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, 3,500 UK churches announced that they were switching to renewable energy.
Climate change wasn’t the only controversial topic the Pope took on while flying from Colombia, where he spent five days and visited a poor neighborhood in Cartagena, back to the Vatican.
He also challenged US President Donald Trump on his decision to rescind an Obama-era program for undocumented immigrants, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
“To take away young people from their families is not something that bears fruit, neither for the young people nor for their families,” he said.