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Is Pope Francis an Environmentalist?

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Pope FrancisPope Francis gave us all a big clue when he chose to name himself after Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. He also hates fracking and likes public transportation. Could the new pope be a hippie?

Since Pope Francis’ election in March 2013, he has made many statements in defense of the environment. He even said to the Vatican on January 14th, “God always forgives, we sometimes forgive, but when nature — creation — is mistreated, she never forgives.”

In fact, word has it that Pope Francis is writing an encyclical on the protection of the environment. Despite reports that the document is in early draft stages and no publication date has been set, environmentalists are optimistic that the Papal encyclical, or letter of Catholic doctrine to all Catholic churches, will have enough power behind it to cause a paradigm shift.

Pope Francis is following in the footsteps of other popes. Ex-Pope Benedict XVI used his power to promote social and political action in response to climate change and even added an electric car to the pope mobile fleet. Pope John Paul II was also an advocate for climate action. Other Catholic leaders have spoken out about the need for a response to the impending “serious and potentially irreversible” effects of a warmer planet.

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