In his proclamation, Pope Francis described the climate crisis as “one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community.” Giuseppe/EPA-EFE
Oct. 4 (UPI) -- Pope Francis issued a stinging 11-page proclamation Wednesday that called out the "irresponsible" actions of the United States and other world policymakers who were not doing enough to mitigate the climate crisis.
The pope released the Apostolic Exhortation ahead of the U.N.-sponsored COP28 climate summit planned for later this year in Dubai, saying he felt compelled to raise the issue because the world's "responses have not been adequate" to limit global warming.
"The world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point," Francis warned in the letter, titled Laudate Deum -- Latin for "Praise God."
"For when human beings claim to take God's place, they become their own worst enemies," the pope decreed, as floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters were occurring more frequently amid soaring world temperatures.
In his message, Francis described the climate crisis as "one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community."
"Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativize the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident," he wrote.
The spiritual leader of the Catholic Church was taking an activist approach and using his influence to keep pressure on world leaders after issuing a 2015 decree -- titled Laudato Si, or "Care for Our Common Home" -- in which he called for more robust cooperation on climate change.
In that message, Francis sought to clarify global progress after three decades of climate improvement efforts.
This time around the pope's tone was more pressing, with Francis warning of greater risk to the planet unless governments enact more meaningful climate policies, including monitoring and enforcement, adding that progress to mitigate the crisis was not happening fast enough.
"If we consider that emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries, we can state that a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact," Francis wrote.
"That is not what has happened so far, and only a process of this sort can enable international politics to recover its credibility, since only in this concrete manner will it be possible to reduce significantly carbon dioxide levels and to prevent even greater evils over time," he said.
Francis' message was intended to challenge "our leaders to lead us in the real changes that are urgently needed so that the climate crisis won't get even worse," said Cardinal Michael Czerny, one of the pope's closest advisers.
While mostly critical, Francis included praise for continuing efforts by wealthy nations to help poor countries deal with the impacts of climate change as extreme weather events continue to ravage many world regions.
The edict from the pope comes a week after the International Energy Agency issued a report showing fossil fuel emissions on a downward trend but still driving higher temperatures and more frequent weather disasters in many pockets of the world.
The report also noted that recent advances in clean energy technology had created better odds for humans to ultimately turn the tide on global warming in the coming decades.