Pope Francis had found an ally in the battle against climate change, but rather than looking to the heavens for help, he’s turned to a more earthly force - President Barack Obama.
During his visit to Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, Pope Francis praised Obama for his action on climate change and the president returned the favor.
"Your Holiness, in your words and deeds, you set a profound moral example," Obama said, according to USA Today. "And in these gentle but firm reminders of our obligations to God and to one another, you are shaking us out of complacency.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly brought up the issue of climate change and made it clear he believes it is a moral issue, the New York Times reported. “Mr. President,” Francis said, “I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history.”
Though Pope Francis and President Obama disagree on topics like abortion, same-sex marriage and capitalism, their message on climate control was complementary. “Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us,” Obama told the Catholic spiritual leader. “We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.”
It’s unclear if the Pope will raise the issue again while addressing a joint session of congress on the second day of his visit. However, Pope Francis said he plans to speak to lawmakers "as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation's political future in fidelity to its founding principles."