Climate Cooling Between the American Episcopate and Pope Francis

November 12, 2021

As the COP26 summit opened on October 31, 2021 in Glasgow (Scotland, United Kingdom) on the theme of global warming, an American study highlights the silence of a large part of the episcopate in the United States on this issue, illustrating a new point of disagreement with Pope Francis.

Wouldn't the American bishops share the same enthusiasm as Pope Francis for ecology? To answer this question, the IOP Science Institute has compiled no less than 12,077 articles published by the ordinary of two hundred and one ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the United States, over a period extending between June 2014 and June 2019, that is to say before and after the encyclical Laudato si '.

In particular, the researchers assessed the frequency and content of episcopal interventions on the subject of the climate change hypothesis. 

Of all the episcopal articles compiled, only 93, or 0.8% of the total, mention this theme. Moreover, these 93 articles were only written by 53 bishops, which represents only 26% of the episcopal body.

Another point raised in the IOP Science survey is that when the bishops actually mentioned climate change in the 93 articles concerned, it was not to accurately relay the content of the encyclical Laudato Si '; far from it.

So, six bishops downplayed the degree of authority represented by the climate change theory and nine others relativized the hypothesis.

In addition, 29 bishops remained unclear about the teaching conveyed by Laudato Si’.

Only 0.46% of episcopal speeches describe climate change as real or ongoing; 0.12% say there is a scientific consensus on the issue; 0.24% describe it as a life-threatening emergency.