Pope Francis has rocked both the religious and secular worlds this year by eschewing papal security, embracing the poor and reaching out to gay and lesbian people. And it won’t end there. For 2015 he’s got a whopping New Year’s resolution: Tackle climate change.
“Following a visit in March to Tacloban, the Philippine city devastated in 2012 by typhoon Haiyan, the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology,” reported the Guardian on December 27. “Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.”
His goal, according to the Guardian, is to influence the climate talks in Paris next year. Such a bold move is in keeping with the name he chose when he ascended to the papacy in 2013, observers say. Francis took on the mantle of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, among other things.
“Nobody's ever taken the name Francis. I mean that's an extremely challenging program just in the name,” said journalist Robert Mickens on 60 Minutes last April. “He took the name Francis from Francis of Assisi, who is probably the most beloved saint you know among Catholics, and especially non-Catholics. And [whom] you know had this great love for the poor, God's creation, nature, peace. And what we've seen is that he lives very radically, very simply, rather than like some monarch prince or king or monarch pope.”
Pope Francis is also being urged to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery, by Catholic nuns among many others.