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WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A recent survey shows more than half of U.S. Catholics believe climate change is the "most important" or a "very important" problem.
Published in June by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA),"'Laudato Si': Catholic Attitudes about Climate Change" seeks to show how Catholic attitudes have changed since the publication of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation in May 2015.
The survey summarizes that adult Catholics in the United States are generally more concerned about climate change than other Christians, and that they believe they have a moral responsibility to do everything they can to prevent it.
An average of 63 percent of the population agrees temperatures on earth are increasing, with 65 percent of Catholics in agreement, and 68 percent who believe human activity is the source of heat-trapping gasses.
About 32 percent of Catholics say they have heard of Pope Francis' encyclical. The number of Catholics who agree human activity is responsible for climate change is 15 percentage points higher for those who have read the encyclical compared to those who have not.
Forty-six percent of Protestant Christians tend to believe God is playing a role in climate change, while less than 20 percent of Catholics agree — about the same number as the U.S. adult average.
In response to the question "What role do you believe God has played in recent climate changes?" people offered various responses, including:
"All changes are part of His plan. We do not need to know, or even understand the plan."
"As stated in the Bible, there is an end."
"Because He is the creator of all things. He controls everything."
"God already knows everything that has and will happen; He gives us a free will to make our choices, but He also knows what we will choose. He knew the climate would change and knows what will come of all of it. He will direct as He feels fit to do."
"God created a universe containing the earth and its life (plants, animals ...), which has a natural evolutionary process, which includes climate changes."
"God decides the weather."
"God set up a climatology system that has naturally occurring cycles. It repeats over time. There have been many slightly cooler periods, just as there have been many slightly warmer periods. This is nothing new."
At World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland, environmentalist groups from all over the world are gathering to implore Pope Francis to have all Catholic institutions divest themselves from the use of fossil fuels, quoting his encyclical where it states: "we know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced without delay."
When "Laudato Si" was published, it was greeted by the secular press and Catholic Establishment press with praise, but others noted there were problems with the science it espoused.
Writer R.R. Reno of First Things commented in "The Weakness of Laudato Si," saying that it "offer[s] both theological critique and endorsement of a coalition of the well-intentioned. But it falls into contradiction because there are no clearly articulated principles guiding analysis of the ecological and social crises precipitated by global capitalism."
He also adds that the encyclical has "important and influential strengths as a spiritual meditation on the perversions of our age and as a global wake-up call."
Watch ChurchMilitant.com's "Global Warming Unmasked" showing how environmentalism is connected to a darker agenda.