BEING a non-Catholic, I have not always followed nor even read papal encyclical until now. And was it an enormous surprise? The 184 page Pope Francis encyclical was a very powerful piece: extremely well written and with the authority of a great leader. It has great wisdom; it is sensitive, insightful, and lucid even when discussing very scientific and technical subjects.

If you love elevated language, good turn of phrase, dialectics and syntax, Pope Francis’ encyclical met all of those and more. Unsurprisingly, the power of the argument contained in the encyclical, not less the subject matter, elicited global response. Days before the publication of the encyclical, the global media went into frenzied speculations on its content — in fact an Italian newspaper, L’ Espresso, leaked its content before the due day. Understandably, the reaction to the encyclical was mixed. Across the world except perhaps in Nigeria and Africa, the continent that incidentally is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, there was scarcely any response! Elsewhere politicians, scientists, environmental activists, etc, weighed in forcefully with their opinion.

Without being derisive this is another failure by Africa to speak up and be counted. Endorsing Pope Francis’ powerful reflections on climate change was another opportunity we missed. By Africa’s silence, the continent has further strengthened its reputation as a laggard that is animated only when issues of money arise. It appears on the matter of climate change, Africa’s agenda is money. Yet, as Pope Francis was eloquently formulating a position that underscores the plight of Africa’s dismal condition in the face of the ravages of climate change; the continent was missing in action. This is sad.

As Nigeria and Africa sleep, in the rest of the world, various peoples and interest groups were taking positions on climate change. Three perhaps absurd reactions came from two American politicians—actually the three men are Catholics and belong to the Republican Party and they are all gunning for the American presidency in 2016. Rick Santorum wanted the Pope to leave science of climate change to scientists, but was reminded that Pope Francis was not actually ignorant on the subject, that he has a Master’s degree in Chemistry. The other political figure was Jeb Bush, who waffled something to the effect that the Pope should not get into political issues since he is not a political leader. No one fully understood what Jeb Bush’s comments meant and it was dismissed as not making much sense. Marco Rubio shadow boxed on this issue. The Republican Party is known for being very edgy on the issue of climate change.
– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/…/pope-francis-on-climate-chan…/…


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