(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ recently-released Encyclical ‘Laudato si’ includes practical suggestions aimed at influencing government policies regarding climate change.
Daniel LeBlanc is a non-governmental organization (NGO) representative at the United Nations in New York for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) and VIVAT International.
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate are a world-wide, missionary religious congregation of priests and brothers founded in 1816 by St. Eugene de Mazenod in southern France to preach the gospel to the poor and most abandoned. Their nearly 4,000 members are present in 67 counties.
VIVAT International, founded in 2000, is an NGO in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and is comprised of 12 member Congregations.
Canadian-born Oblate priest, Father Daniel LeBlanc, spent almost 30 years of his missionary life in Peru before being tasked to the Congregation’s General Administration to represents both the Oblates and VIVAT at the UN.
Devin Watkins asked him how the Encyclical is affecting his advocacy work at the United Nations.
Listen to Daniel LeBlanc’s full interview with Devin Watkins:
Drawing on his missionary work in Latin America, Fr. LeBlanc notes a "growing consciousness of indigenous peoples and their rights and their relationship both social and spiritual to the Earth". The development seen in the Encyclical originates in a "long, progressive development in the Latin American Bishops' Conferences".
As an observer to the UN, Fr. LeBlanc sees an "openness" toward Laudato si' among politicians and representatives of governments, but that "when it comes down to negotiating they often mention to us that their personal way of seeing things and feelings may not come through very much because they have to represent their governments' position. And the political position really often comes in opposition to what we who work in the Justice, Peace, and Development area would like."
Fr. LeBlanc asserts that larger countries "know and understand that they have a responsibility to helping developing countries, but they don't find it at all easy to commit to anything." Pope Francis, he said, "mentions this in the Encyclical, that one of the difficulties is the political realm, because political leaders are elected for a short period of time [...] while what we are talking about here, what Pope Francis is talking about, is a long-term relationship of the human being with his and her environment".
Fr. LeBlanc says that, despite the gap between political shortsightedness and the long-term vision of Pope Francis, there is hope for change. "Apart from the political realm, which is going to be maybe a little more difficult", he says, "from the business perspective, there are more and more business leaders who are coming to realize -- thanks in great part to the work of members of the Church, especially religious congregations in working with the business sector to help them realize that doing the right thing may be just as or more profitable than doing the wrong thing."
Concluding, he says that "Pope Francis seems to insist much more on renewable energy and on recycling what has already been taken from the ground, the sea, and the air."
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