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Saving the planet requires a change of heart, cardinal tells UN

Cardinal Peter Turkson: Francis laments "widespread indifference to suffering' in encyclical (AP)

A Vatican official has told a United Nations gathering on climate change that Pope Francis’s new encyclical is calling on all societies to examine how they produce and consume goods and on all the world’s people to realise the role they have in addressing climate change.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, echoed many of the sentiments raised by the encyclical during his address. In the document, Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, the Pope argues that “climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods”, the cardinal said.

The encyclical also said climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day and laments the “widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world”.

Cardinal Turkson pointed out that the UN, through its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has “availed itself of the best scientific research available”, which should “touch us deeply so that we see and hear how the poor suffer and how the earth is being mistreated”.

The cardinal said that just as the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro – officially called the UN Conference on Environment and Development – proclaimed that “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development”, the Pope’s encyclical emphasises that the “plight of the poor and the fragility of the planet are intimately related”.