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In his 184-page papal encyclical released today, Pope Francis had harsh words for how humanity has treated the earth. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he wrote. "Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain." Encyclicals—papal letters that represent some of the Catholic church’s most important documents—are typically addressed directly to the Catholics around the globe. But this year, the pope had a larger audience in mind, saying the letter was addressed to “every person living on this planet.”

The pope took more than a year to write the encyclical, which was released in at least five languages and cites research from dozens of scientists and scholars. In it, he acknowledged that humans are primarily at fault for the large change in global temperatures. He argued that climate change is having serious consequences, including hurting the poor, and that developed countries have a responsibility to help less developed countries take steps to fight climate change. Slowing down the destruction of the earth will take a “bold cultural revolution,” he argued, which will require people in all areas of society to combat consumerism and structural injustices and practice responsible stewardship.

"We are not God," he wrote, "The Earth was here before us and has been given to us" ... Discuss

An early draft of Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical address—officially due out later this week—has been leaked, and in it, the pontiff takes a stand against climate change. Papal encyclicals are important written statements and teachings that typically discuss faith and modern issues. The Vatican has made clear it is not the final draft, and that the leak was an act of “sabotage against the pope,” meant to undermine is upcoming visit to the United States and address at the U.N. (We will report and post more details of the encyclical following its official release.)

Further details of the final version of the encyclical will be formally published by the Vatican on Thursday morning, but according to the reports, the encyclical will echo statements he’s previously made about climate change: That it is partly man-made, it harms the world’s poorest communities and something must be done to stop it. The U.N. top climate change official told USA Today, “We expect the papal encyclical to have a major impact during a very critical year in this (climate negotiation) process" ... Discuss

Pope Francis is continuing his personal outreach to the homeless around Vatican City. The pontiff ordered a new, 30-bed homeless shelter to be built in the Vatican. As The Washington Post notes, it’s just the first in a series of actions to care for the homeless he’s undertaken since becoming pope: He’s installed free showers in Vatican City; paid for homeless individuals to visit the Shroud of Turin; arranged private museum tours; and even provided free shaves and haircuts ... Discuss

Pope Francis recently spoke at Italy's Science and Life Association, and along with addressing issues including abortion, global violence and terrorism, the leader of the Catholic Church also said that the current migrant crisis is an important life issue that must be dealt with:

The scourge of abortion is an attack against life. Leaving our brothers on boats to die in the Sicilian channel is an attack against life. Death from malnutrition is an attack against life. Terrorism, war, violence, but also euthanasia are attacks against life.

Since the beginning of this year, more than 40,000 migrants have arrived in Italy after fleeing conflicts in unstable countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The rise of ISIS in Libya has also been blamed for the continued surge in migrants attempting to make the extremely dangerous journey to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea. Though officials in Europe have recently ramped up rescue efforts and are now targeting human traffickers profiting from the frequently deadly trips, at least 1,600 are believed to have died at sea this year ... Discuss

If you’ve ever wanted to see the pope spinning a basketball on his finger, you’re in luck. During Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square today, he met with the Harlem Globetrotters, who presented him with a personalized Globetrotters jersey (No. 90, the number of years the team has been around), taught him a few basketball tricks and even jokingly invited him to come play in their next game. One can only hope that a video of the pope slam dunking will emerge in the near future ...

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Pope Francis used his Christmas day message to call for peace in areas of conflict, reminding the Church how many children have suffered because of the violence in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and parts of Africa. “There are so many tears this Christmas,” he said. The Pope’s message was stern and somber. He referenced the brutal New Testament king from the Christmas story, saying that today, the young victims of abuse, violence and displacement cry “out under the spade of many Herods” while “so many men and women immersed in worldliness and indifference,” ignore their plight. On Christmas Eve, Pope Francis used a satellite phone call to address families at a refugee camp in the Kurdish region of Iraq, telling them “You are like Jesus on the night of His birth when He had been forced to flee. You are like Jesus in this situation, and that means we are praying even harder for you.”

In his Christmas season speech, the pope also singled out abortion, referencing, “infants killed in the womb, deprived of that generous love of their parents and then buried in the egoism of a culture that does not love life.” His prayer was for peace around the world and that God would comfort those suffering in global conflicts: “May indifference be changed into closeness and rejection into hospitality, so that all who now are suffering may receive the necessary humanitarian help to overcome the rigors of winter, return to their countries and live with dignity” ... Discuss