Global Warming Man-Made, Says Pope in Leaked Encyclical

Pope Francis writes that climate change is largely human-driven in a new document leaked by an Italian news magazine. REUTERS/Angelo Carconi/Pool

In what Vatican officials are calling "a heinous act," Italian weekly newsmagazine L'Espresso leaked a draft copy on Monday of the hotly anticipated papal encyclical on the environment titled "Laudato Si."

Vatican officials were quick to point out in a statement that the document leaked by L'Espresso is not the encyclical's final form, which is expected out Thursday. They called on other journalists to respect the encyclical's embargo.

The encyclical, which as many speculated pins the blame for climate change on human activity, has for many months set Catholic against Catholic, with some on the right arguing that Francis should stick to what he knows and leave science to the scientists. "I don't care whether it's Pope Francis or his predecessors or his successors someday. Once you get outside the domain, of faith and morals, be careful and be careful particularly when you get into the weeds and get very specific," warned Bill Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League, an American group, in an interview with Newsmax.

Peggy Noonan echoed Donohue's sentiment in The Wall Street Journal, warning Francis not to accept climate science as a settled matter: "But is the science of climate change settled? And can a church that made a mistake with Galileo 400 years ago make another mistake by trying desperately not to repeat the earlier one?"

Francis is unlikely to find many detractors among the scientific community, however. In 2014, an intergovernmental group composed of more than 300 scientists found human activity to be the primary driver of climate change on this planet. And a survey in 2013 that looked at over 12,000 scientific papers on environmental science found that about 97 percent of the abstracts agreed with this conclusion.