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Cardinal Peter Turkson: Bishops need to speak up on the environment

Cardinal Peter Turkson poses as he holds Pope Francis' new encyclical titled "Laudato Si' (Be Praised): On Care of Our Common Home" during the presentation news conference at the Vatican on June 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi
Cardinal Peter Turkson poses as he holds Pope Francis's new encyclical titled "Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home", during the presentation news conference at the Vatican on June 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-TURKSON-ENVIRONMENT, originally transmitted on July 6, 2015.

Cardinal Peter Turkson poses as he holds Pope Francis’ new encyclical titled “Laudato Si’ (Be Praised): On Care of Our Common Home” during the presentation news conference at the Vatican on June 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Max Rossi
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-TURKSON-ENVIRONMENT, originally transmitted on July 6, 2015.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican is calling on bishops globally to act on the pope’s groundbreaking environmental encyclical, Cardinal Peter Turkson said in an interview.

Last week, bishops’ conferences across the world were sent a message urging them to speak up about the message of the papal letter, which called for greater action on the environment, said Turkson, who is president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

“This encyclical is very unique. It made it clear that it wasn’t just someone in Rome writing for the whole world, but the pope writing together with all bishops’ conferences,” the Ghanaian cardinal said, following the end of an early July two-day conference to discuss the implications of the papal letter.

Clerics were sent information on the encyclical ahead of the document’s release last month, to prepare them for the huge global interest it attracted.

Now the Vatican is planning meetings with the world’s major bishops’ conferences, likely after October, to ensure they are successfully acting on the pope’s wishes.

In addition, the Vatican will also continue its engagement with other faiths on environmental issues.

“We need to get to other religions who want to work with us,” he said. “We’ve already been having sessions with some religious leaders; it’s not that we cooked something and now we’re trying to sell it to them!”

Plans are underway at the Vatican to organize a multifaith event on the encyclical in Assisi, the Italian city of St. Francis, although Turkson said the meeting still needs papal approval.

Turkson said it was important for church groups to act on environmental and development plans at a local level.

“Faith-based groups should learn to engage or get involved in the discussion or formulation of projects from the start, so they don’t wait for objectives to be formed and then criticize them. Let’s not be the fire service!”


About the author

Rosie Scammell

Rosie Scammell is a British journalist with extensive experience reporting for leading international news organizations. She has been based in Italy since 2012 and covers the Vatican for RNS.


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  • As much as this is a very well written encyclical, one that should have all the world seeing the majesty of God glorified in and through nature, and it certainly has me seeking increased ways of conserving, and recycling, but it really could not have come at a worse time. Between Ireland, and the USA, both in very different ways opened the sacrament of marriage up to the gay community. So sadly, the encyclical will quickly fade, and the recent situations worldwide will turn the Vatican’s attention to its October meeting on the family. As a Catholic, I know with certitude that there will not be anything coming out of the Synod of the Family regarding gay marriage, as the Church can never proclaim something against divine revelation, or The Deposit of Faith, but it will be interesting to see how divorce and remarriage is debated. For the Church can always go back to an earlier practice that was done even as far back as the early Church (first few centuries). So we will see.

  • My friend Cardinal Turkson has emerged as a World leader speaking out on the need to protect our planet and follow the example of St. Francis. We all pray that the Holy Father’s leadership can rally support for this endeavor and that his Encyclical will be the path to a cleaner environment and more just distribution of resources for all.

  • Cardinal Turkson has been pressing for the accepting the deception of “global warming” as Pope Benedict was preparing his encyclical. Press releases claiming that BXVI had created a society of St. Francis in support of this hoax because not addressing “global warming” harms the poor tried to indoctrinate people into believing that BXVI was onto this fad of dangerous group think. President of Notre Dame University, Rev. John Jenkins sent out his own press release. Ultimately, Pope Benedict wrote a beautiful encyclical encouraging good stewardship, but denounced “global warming” as unproven science!!! Pope Francis, on the other hand, seems to be naive, and has let Cardinal Turkson write this into his encyclical. How dangerous as it is a ploy to take down the free market as had been admitted by a UN representative! George Weigel in his book “Evangelical Catholicism” said that popes never take political stances in their encyclicals. For some reason, this pope has, and the…

  • Well, we finally got an fool in the White House so why not one in Rome. To equate the greatest gift that nature has ever provided, fossil fuels, with exploitation of the planet and the poor surely puts this fool in the lunatic fringe of climate hysteria- he is Al Gorish. Fossil fuels have lifted man out of the darkness and have enabled the great civilizations of the world to develop and lift all men out of the abject misery that has preceded us in world history. The number one thing that the poor need is cheap, reliable energy and this Socialist, masquerading as a Pope, wants them to stay in poverty because of some junk science about CO2 destroying the planet. What they need is to use their natural resources to lift them into the modern world, not listen to some Luddite from Rome, via Socialist South America, who is spewing junk science that makes no sense and has no logic. They should call this Pope the “Pope of the Poor” because if his harebrained gibberish is ever followed we…

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