“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40)
Around the world, those who are least responsible for releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere–the poor and disenfranchised–are the most vulnerable to climate dangers, including: rising flooding, drought, heat waves, food insecurity and the resulting civil unrest. A commitment to care for “the least of these” is a commitment to climate justice.
Pope Francis speaks to climate in-justice and the “differentiated responsibilities” of individuals in his May 2015 Ladauto Si’–an authoritative, encyclical letter on the care of our common home. He says, “Those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms.”
The lack of an appropriate response, he says, stems from a lost “sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.”
Pope Francis connects the plight of people and landscape by observing, “we are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is simultaneously social and environmental….We must hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”