Pope Francis said that humans are to blame for climate change, a statement that comes as the Argentinian prepares to release an encyclical on the environment that would bring the Roman Catholic Church into the global warming fray.
“I don’t know if it is all [man’s fault], but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature,” he told reporters Thursday, according to The Guardian.
The comment is likely to rattle conservative members of the church who would view Francis' actions as politicizing an issue. But Francis has pitched his concern regarding climate change in Biblical terms and as a means to promote environmental stewardship by humans.
“We have, in a sense, lorded it over nature, over Sister Earth, over Mother Earth,” he said, later adding, “I think man has gone too far. ... Thank God that today there are voices that are speaking out about this.“
Scientists blame human activity for the world's warming trends, largely through burning greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels.
Francis is reportedly taking a more active role on climate change in order to drum up support for United Nations-hosted climate negotiations scheduled for December in Paris. Nations there will look to strike a deal to govern emissions reductions beyond 2020 with a hope of securing enough commitments to keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, though scientists say that's growing ever unlikely.
According to comments in The Guardian, Francis wasn't satisfied with draft negotiations last month in Lima, Peru, which served as the prelude to the Paris meeting.
"The Peru meeting was nothing much, it disappointed me," he said. "I think there was a lack of courage. They stopped at a certain point. Let’s hope the delegates in Paris will be more courageous and move forward with this."
Francis has spoken often about caring for the environment in terms of slowing climate change. Dubbed the "Pope for the Poor," curbing emissions would accomplish some of Francis' goals by alleviating damage to impoverished coastal cities and villages that face rising sea levels and food insecurity that would come from changing precipitation and crop yields linked to a warming planet.
The Guardian previously reported that Francis will deliver his encyclical on the environment to the church's 5,000 bishops and 400,000 priests following a March visit to Tacloban, the Philippines city ravaged in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan.