encyclical

The Encyclical remains a text that inspires and provokes, simultaneously forcing us to question our behavior- our excessive consumerism powered by polluting energy sources that contribute to climate change - and empowering us to swap our habits for new, more sustainable and more fulfilling ways of living.
There could be no more urgent political or policy agenda. There are two global crises that are increasing exponentially in scale this year, trapped in a vicious reinforcing cycle, one making the other worse.
Today it is the Pope himself being challenged as a heretic of sorts. He is a heretic to those who subscribe to the conventional, reductionist belief system that sees science as separate from spirituality, and religion as separate from politics and economics.
I happily join the 840,000 of my Catholic sisters and brothers in exhorting the COP21 negotiators to develop the international frameworks needed for a climate of justice.
Pope Francis, addressing climate change before a Congress dominated by Republicans -- more than half of whom deny its reality -- and Democrats who despair of doing anything about it, was a prophet of hope rather than doom. If Francis can make a difference here, he may yet go down in history as the pope who saved the world.
"The United States -- and this Congress -- have an important role to play."
Modern science understands that everything is connected to everything. So too do all major religions, and virtually all wisdom traditions understand this core principle, often summarized by the concept of "oneness."
When Francis speaks to Congress and the United Nations this week, as he did in Havana recently, this call for all of us to be responsible will no doubt be a part of his message to this country. And the timing is perfect.
The world's great religions insist that our secular leaders must either adapt to the new reality or be replaced. In the Pope's words, "What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?"
Flourishing means more than just having enough for ourselves; it means building a just society so our neighbors have enough to eat, medical care, employment, and dignity. Flourishing involves practicing sustainability so that the next generations will enjoy life on a good earth.
Speaking truth to power and the publics, the encyclical encouraged a radical reorientation in how we communicate with each other and coexist with the natural world. What a welcome wake-up call.
As public servants working in both domestic policy and diplomacy, we understand the urgent need for global action. Climate impacts like extreme droughts, floods, fires, heat waves and storms threaten people in every country -- and those who have the least suffer the most.
People often compartmentalize the various parts of their lives for understandable reasons. Family, job, friends, church are often compartments that people use to make complicated lives and complex issues more manageable.
I never expected to sit down and read a 180-page treatise written by the pope. As a Jew, I don't generally spend my spare time studying Catholic teachings. But I do think about my children's future, and how climate change will alter their lives.
He is being honest. He is revealing what our leaders want to hide. And he is calling politicians and economists to be truthful in their accounting of the benefits and costs associated with their policies.
The recently published encyclical has some astonishing statements. While I differ with the Vatican on a number of issues, I cannot diminish the incredible stand the new Pope has taken on issues of global injustice, the environment, animal welfare and poverty.
After many false starts, we believe that we have now reached a tipping point (or, if you prefer, an "inflection point").