Hales to go to Pope Francis climate change meeting

Pope Francis to release climate change encyclical on Thursday

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales in 2015, Pope Francis in 2014 (KOIN/AP)
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales in 2015, Pope Francis in 2014 (KOIN/AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – When Pope Francis talks about climate change at the Vatican in July, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales will be one of 16 urban leaders invited to attend.

The pontiff is expected to release a papal encyclical on Thursday, “Laudato si (Be Praised), On the Care of our Common Home,” that will address climate change, global warming, energy hoarding all at the expense of the poor.

Hales is one of the mayors from throughout the world to be invited to the July 21 event entitled, “Modern Slavery and Climate Change – The Commitment of the Cities.” Among the other attendees will be the mayors of Berlin, Rome, Seoul, Paris, Rio de Janiero, Johannesburg, Istanbul, Melbourne, Oslo, Minneapolis, Seattle and Boulder.

Hales is a member of the C40 Climate Leadership group, which describes itself as “a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change.”

Recent popes have made clear that human activity is largely to blame for the environmental degradation that is threatening the Earth’s ecosystems. They have demanded urgent action by industrialized nations to change their ways and undergo an “ecological conversion” to prevent the poor from paying for the sins of the rich.

Some have even made their points in encyclicals, the most authoritative teaching document a pope can issue, including one from John Paul II in 1990.

Pope Francis waves to journalists as he boards the airplane on the occasion of his trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia, at Rome's Fiumicino International Airport, Saturday, June 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis waves to journalists as he boards the airplane on the occasion of his trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia, at Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport, Saturday, June 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

But no pope has dedicated an entire encyclical to ecological concerns. And no pope has cited the findings of the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change in a major document, as Francis is expected to do. Francis, history’s first Latin American pope, will also be bringing the point of view of the “Global South” to a social teaching document of the church, which is in itself new.

Encyclical leaked

L’Espresso magazine published the full 191 pages of “Laudato Si” (Be Praised) on its website Monday, three days before the official launch. The Vatican said it was just a draft, but most media ran with it, given that it covered many of the same points Francis and his advisers have been making in the run-up to the release.

On Tuesday, the Vatican indefinitely suspended the press credentials of L’Espresso’s veteran Vatican correspondent, Sandro Magister, saying the publication had been “incorrect.” A letter from the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, to Magister advising him of the sanction was posted on the bulletin board of the Vatican press office.

Magister told The Associated Press that his editor, not he, obtained the document and decided to publish it.

“I just wrote the introduction,” Magister said in a text message, adding that he had promised the Vatican to keep quiet about the scoop.

In the draft of the encyclical, Francis says global warming is “mostly” due to human activity and the burning of fossil fuels. He calls for a radical change in behavior to save the planet for future generations and prevent the poor from suffering the worst effects of industry-induced environmental degradation.

Several Vatican commentators hypothesized that the leak was aimed at taking the punch out of Thursday’s official launch of the encyclical, in which the Vatican has lined up a Catholic cardinal, an Orthodox theologian, an atheist scientist and an economist to discuss the contents.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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