Pope Francis: Environmental Destruction A Sin, Will Write Encyclical On Climate Change

Pope Francis continues his groundbreaking progressive approach to Catholicism with plans to expand next year on one of his favorite causes: climate change and protecting the environment. The pope is expected to make climate change a large part of his leadership efforts throughout 2015, according to ThinkProgress.org, using the papacy to encourage the 1.2 billion Catholics to protect the environment as "God's creation."

Pope Francis has even gone as far as to call the destruction of the rainforest a sin, and cautioned Catholics and non-Catholics alike that protecting the environment is a sacred matter, going as far as back as his inaugural mass in 2013.

"The vocation of being a 'protector,' however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God's creatures and respecting the environment in which we live."

Under Pope Francis' leadership in 2014, the Catholic Church held a five-day summit with scientists and experts on the environment, and the Pope already has plans in place to address the New York general assembly next September regarding climate change and general environmental issues. Pope Francis will also attend The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change global meeting in Paris at the end of 2015.

Taking further action related to the operations of the Catholic Church, the pope will be drafting a formal letter to all Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church, called an encyclical, specifically addressing climate change.

Dan Misleh, director of the Catholic climate covenant, told The Guardian these letters are rare and uses Pope Francis' highest level of authority in creating the document, expected to be somewhere around 50-60 pages long. But the pope can expect some push-back from other church members as well as evangelical groups and even member of Congress.

"There will always be 5-10 percent of people who will take offense," Misleh told The Guardian. "They are very vocal and have political clout. This encyclical will threaten some people and bring joy to others. The arguments are around economics and science rather than morality."

Pope Francis has distinguished himself from previous popes in his progressive views on such topics as evolution, homosexuality, and politics within the Vatican. These views, as well as the pope's humility and his example of leading a far less lavish lifestyle than previous popes, have made him very popular among non-Catholics as well as members of his own church.

Do you agree with Pope Francis that harming the environment is a "sin?"

[Photo via Wikipedia Commons]