Ahead of releasing an encyclical this summer about climate change, the Vatican is holding a meeting this week that will encourage world leaders to agree to measures set forth by the U.N. to mitigate the effects of global warming.
Pope Francis met with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday ahead of the workshop "Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development." Ban praised the teaching document that the pope is expected to issue in June.
"I'm sure this encyclical will have a profound impact on the discussion of climate change," Ban said, according to the Associated Press.
In January, Pope Francis spoke to young people in the Philippines, encouraging them to "[show] concern for the environment."
"This is not only because this country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change," he said. "You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ."
More recently, the day before Earth Day, he tweeted:
We need to care for the earth so that it may continue, as God willed, to be a source of life for the entire human family.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 21, 2015
Some believe though that the pope is being "misled."
The right-leaning Heartland Institute, for example, sent delegates to Rome asking that the Roman Catholic leader "not put the enormous weight of your moral authority behind the discredited and scandal-prone United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change."
"The Holy Father is being misled by ‘experts’ at the United Nations who have proven unworthy of his trust," Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast said in a statement. "Humans are not causing a climate crisis on God’s Green Earth – in fact, they are fulfilling their Biblical duty to protect and use it for the benefit of humanity. Though Pope Francis’s heart is surely in the right place, he would do his flock and the world a disservice by putting his moral authority behind the United Nations’ unscientific agenda on the climate.
According to the New York Times, the upcoming encyclical coupled with the pope's trip to the U.S. to address Congress in September could have an impact on lawmakers who have questioned man-made global warming and balked against legislation meant to help curb it.
"Can you imagine what the Republicans will do when he says, ‘You’ve got to do something about global warming’?" Rev. Thomas Reese, an analyst at the National Catholic Reporter, told the Times.
The Times reported that the pope's stance on the environment could influence the millions who follow him around the world.
"This pope is more than just a church leader — he is a political leader, particularly in Latin America," Romina Picolotti, president of the Center for Human Rights and Environment in Argentina, the pope's home country, told the Times. "Youth in Latin America are really following him closely."
Of the upcoming encyclical, Teresa Berger with the Yale Divinity School told the Guardian she thinks the document will emphasize "a God-sustained universe, anchored in a theology of creation as articulated in the biblical witness."