Pope Francis tells Congress: Be Courageous, Do Something about Climate Change

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Speaking slowly and clearly in English, Pope Francis addresses the joint meeting of Congress. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

In his address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress Thursday morning, Pope Francis minced no words when it came to climate change. Referencing his recent influential encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, the pope called on the United States to make a “courageous and responsible effort” to “avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.”

Quoting from his encyclical, he insisted on an “integrated approach,” which would not only care for the Earth, but at the same time combating poverty and “restoring dignity to the excluded.”

“We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”

Humanity, he said, must “redirect our steps” with regards to the health of the Earth, and he specifically called out “this Congress” for having an “important role to play.”  

Read a full transcript of the environmentally-focused part of Pope Francis' speech below:

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. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all

“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.