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Pope Francis: Climate activist?

Pope Francis is a staunch advocate for addressing climate change.
Lisa Maree Williams
Getty Images
Pope Francis is a staunch advocate for addressing climate change.

"Activist" and "pope." Historically, these are not two words that go together. But they have over the past decade, especially when it comes to climate change.

Who is he? Jorge Mario Bergoglio. AKA Pontifex. AKA the Pope.

What's the big deal? For years, Pope Francis has been using his position to raise awareness of climate change. Now, he's going to COP — the United Nations' annual climate conference.

  • He will be the first pontiff to go the conference, and he isn't stopping there.
  • In 2015, Francis released "Laudato Si," a major papal document where he urged the world to take climate change seriously and to cut back on material waste and consumption-centered lifestyles.
  • Last month, he revisited the topic in a new major writing, "Laudate Deum." Over the last eight years, the climate has gotten hotter, and the Pope's tone in this writing has changed as well.

What are people saying? All Things Considered host Scott Detrow spoke with Fordham University professor Christiana Zenner, who studied the pope's writings on climate change; and Nicole Winfield, the Vatican correspondent for the Associated Press.

Here's Zenner on how Francis' tone has shifted over the years:

Want more? Listen to Consider This dive deeper into this story.

Here's Winfield on what the pope may hope to achieve by attending COP28:

And Winfield on how urgently the pope prioritizes climate change among his social causes:

So, what now? COP28 will run this year from Thursday, Nov. 3o to Tuesday, Dec. 12 in Dubai.

Learn more:

The radio version of this story was produced by Emma Klein and Marc Rivers. It was edited by Jeanette Woods and Bridget Kelley. It was hosted by Scott Detrow. contributed to this story

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Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.