The pope goes green

Pope Francis is breaking all sorts of molds with his increasingly progressive views in what had been traditionally one of the most conservative seats of power in the world. His latest is an encyclical – entitled “Laudato Si,” or “Praise be to You” – that forcefully places blame for climate change on humans, putting him squarely on the side of mainstream science and environmental activists.

Though much of the focus has been on the pontiff’s call for action on climate change in the much-anticipated encyclical, which is subtitled “On Care for our Common home,” he also takes the opportunity to smack around 21st century technology and the pursuit at all costs of profits for their deleterious effects on the environment. He says those actions harm the world’s poorest the most as farming areas are redeveloped or grow fallow and drinking water sources dry up, some of it an offshoot of global warming.

“The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming,” he writes.

It’s a foray into politics and policy that is rarely seen from the Holy See. But it also is causing the church’s traditional supporters on the right to question Francis’s expertise and motives, while those on the left embrace his call to environmental arms.

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, a devout Catholic, said at a New Hampshire campaign stop that the pope was wading into areas above his paygrade.

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” said Bush. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people, less about things [that] end up getting into the political realm.”

Francis frames the debate not only for “every person living on this planet,” but for all the people of the world to come. He says to ignore the impact of global ecological changes is short-sighted.

“Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever,” he writes.

But Francis’s 192-page report, which combines his chemistry background with his abiding fealty to Catholic doctrine on respect for the world’s most needy, is certain to change the conversation about climate change. The pope adopts some of the language of those who champion the theory that man caused climate change in calling those who dismiss the evidence “deniers.”

The encyclical comes as the world’s leaders ready for a summit on climate change at the end of the year. Francis’s call to immediately cease the reliance on fossil fuels is sure to have an impact on policy presentations on sustainable energy in any international accord.

In his opening pages, Francis minces few words in outlining where we’ve been and where we’re headed, placing the blame on all industrialized nations. He invokes Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and environmentalists, who called the planet “our sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us.”

“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her,” the pope writes. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior, which at times appears self-destructive. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”

JACK SULLIVAN

 

BEACON HILL

The state is launching an opioid awareness campaign targeted at parents. (WBUR)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

A Superior Court judge in Lawrence rules Mayor Daniel Rivera fired the city’s former comptroller in violation of the city charter. Other employees who were fired, including the girlfriend of former mayor William Lantigua, have similar suits pending. (Eagle-Tribune)

Efforts by Boston to sell a lucrative city-owned parcel in the financial district have become entangled by complicated rules governing the activity of the city and the quasi-independent Boston Redevelopment Authority. (Boston Globe)

The Brockton fire chief confirmed he testified before a federal grand jury investigating the awarding of the city’s ambulance contract to Brewster Ambulance, replacing American Medical Response, which had the contract for nearly 35 years. (The Enterprise)

Worcester is resurrecting a police-clergy partnership. (Telegram & Gazette)

Raymond Mariano says he plans to leave his post at the head of the Worcester Housing Authority next year. (Telegram & Gazette)

No-smoking rules are being put in place for public housing in Lynn following a survey of residents. (Item)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

A white gunman opens fire in a historic black South Carolina church, killing at least nine, including the pastor who is also a state senator, in what law enforcement officials labeled a hate crime. (New York Times)

Peter Gelzinis heads to Hudson for the funeral of 36-year-old Keith Broomfield, who was killed fighting alongside Kurds against ISIS in Syria. (Boston Herald)

A woman’s image may go on the $10 bill. (Mashable)

An Ohio ballot measure would put marijuana production in the hands of 10 growers. (Time)

OLYMPICS

Boston 2024 CEO Rich Davey tells the Herald a master developer plan “makes the most sense” as a way to build-out the area around a proposed Olympic stadium. The Dorchester Reporter broke the news on Monday of this possible switch in the approach to the development around Widett Circle. It would involve a private developer acquiring the entire area and bearing all the risks and rewards of its build-out for the Olympics and future reuse.

Dot. Ave. — the Champs-Élysées of Boston 2024? (Boston Globe)

Well-known Olympics watcher Alan Abramson still has a big “sell” on Boston 2024 stock.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Former US representative Barney Frank is joining the board of Signature Bank in New York. (WBUR)

A California labor board has ruled that an Uber driver was improperly treated by the company as a contractor and should be considered an employee, a decision that could have big consequences for the burgeoning ride-sharing sector. (Boston Herald)

An IRS advisory board has called on the agency to mandate electronic filing by nonprofits and is pushing to update and simplify the Form 990 tax return. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

AT&T is hit with a $100 million fine for slowing the data speeds of its customers. (Time)

EDUCATION

A Salem State University foundation paid New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $170,000 to speak at an event where it turned a $40,000 profit. (CommonWealth) Brady’s appearance at the school is stirring questions about the oversight of college foundations. (Boston Globe)

UMass trustees voted to raise student tuition and fees by up to 5 percent. It will mean $552 to $580 more per year for in-state students, depending on which UMass campus they attend, reports the Herald. At UMass Lowell, costs could rise nearly $1,000, reports the Sun.

Cheshire voters get scolded for failing to pass a Proposition 2½ override after the town voted earlier to approve a budget that relied on the override.  (Berkshire Eagle)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

An MIT committee is recommending targeted divestment of university endowment holdings in companies that are heavily focused on “the most carbon-intensive and environmentally hazardous fossil fuels.” (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The MetroWest Daily News calls for an end to mandatory minimum sentences and an improved re-entry system.

A Plymouth marine was convicted for the second time in the murder of an Iraqi civilian in 2006 and covering it up to make it look like the victim was an insurgent. (Associated Press)

A man who was committed to a state hospital in 1993 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity for shooting and killing a school nurse in Acushnet has been released from custody and has moved back to town, according to the Bristol District Attorney’s office. (Standard-Times)

A former prosecutor suing Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz and his aides for firing him for allegedly refusing to contribute to Cruz’s campaign asked the judge for permission to file a motion under seal because of “incendiary” allegations against one of the defendants that could cause “undue embarrassment.” (Patriot Ledger)

An internal police report says Ipswich chief Paul Nikas violated department policies and state conflict-of-interest laws in dealing with charges against his brother, a subordinate in the department. (Salem News)

A Lynn man released after 21 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit slowly gets accustomed to freedom. (Boston Globe)

MEDIA

Brian Williams, placed on leave after it was revealed he embellished field reports, will not return to the anchor desk at NBC News, but will stay with the company in a reduced role, handling breaking news reports for MSNBC. (New York Times)

And in sports, in media vs. mouthpiece softball action, the hacks, led by manager Garrett Quinn of Boston Magazine, defeat the flacks, led by Conor Yunits of Liberty Square Group, by a score of 14-3.