It’s often said it’s best not to talk politics on a first date but during Pope Francis’ first address to the United States Wednesday he held no reservations, especially when it came to the environment.
“Climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation,” said Pope Francis as he addressed a crowd of 11,000 on the south lawn of the White House.
Briar Cliff University Assistant Professor of Theology Paul Korchin told ABC9 that the Pope’s candid speech is not a surprise.
“There’s a perception and sometimes a discussion that the Pope should stick to religious matters,” said Korchin. “The catholic church and catholic social teaching tradition which is now over a 100 years old has never quite seen it that way. The catholic church feels that not only is it, its right, but also its duties to lend its voice to these serious social, political and ecological issues, “said Korchin.
The Pontiff framed his argument on climate change as a moral issue, and not a political one. Briar Cliff University Biology Professor Brian Hazlett agrees.
“When it comes to climate change the ability to, in a sense, steer our course back to something that might be a little more acceptable should be done before this generation ends,” said Hazlett.
The Pope’s message on the importance of addressing climate change also resonated with some students.
“It’s something we probably should’ve been looking at since we started the Industrial Revolution. So the fact that he’s doing that I’m all for it and I’m not catholic and I’m supporting what he’s doing,” said Chad Heying, environmental science & biology major.
Pope Francis also touched on other sensitive subjects, including immigration, marriage and Cuba, setting the tone for what can be expected during his 6 day visit.
“I don’t think we’ve heard the last from Pope Francis on these issues,” said Korchin.