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The Pope wants Vatican City to be powered entirely by solar energy

Despite coming under fire for his recent use of homophobic slurs, Pope Francis’ allegiance to the Catholic Church hasn’t rendered him oblivious to how the planet and its inhabitants are changing.

Pope Francis may not have the best reputation with Gen Z for his commentary on the LGBTQIA+ community, however, he’ll soon be scoring some major points when it comes to his views on environmentalism and the climate crisis.

In an apostolic letter titled ‘Brother Sun’, published by the Vatican on June 26th, the Pope stated his intention to transition Vatican City away from emission-heavy energy and towards a state of ‘climate neutrality’.

To do so, the Pope has outlined a plan to acquire enough solar panels to generate power for all of the city’s needs. It states that panels will be placed on Vatican-owned property in the area of Santa Maria di Galeria, where the Vatican hosts its radio broadcasts, about 11 miles outside of Rome.

In the letter, the Pope writes: ‘Humanity possesses the technological means to tackle this environmental transformation and its pernicious ethical, social, economic, and political consequences, with solar energy playing a fundamental role among these solutions.’

Okay, Mr. Francis!

Is Pope Francis the most modern pope yet?

Though Pope Francis has held slightly more progressive stances than his predecessors, he has not been able to stay completely out of controversy stemming from the old-school values of Catholicism.

At the end of 2023, he granted Catholic priests his permission to ‘bless’ same-sex couples in marriage. This was initially seen as a breakthrough for LGBTQIA+ Catholics – who have traditionally been viewed as conflicting with the church’s doctrines.

However, a look at the fine print revealed that discrimination had not been entirely eliminated.

In the eyes of the Vatican, the marriage of same-sex couples is still not seen as legitimate. Rather than ‘approving’ of their union, the Pope’s move merely stood to recognise the existence of gay, bisexual, and queer Catholic couples through this ‘blessing’.

In more recent weeks, the Pope was heavily criticised for using a homophobic slur (twice!) during a conversation about gay men. The Vatican issued an apology, with Italian media outlets quoting anonymous bishops who believed the Pope hadn’t realised the term was seen as derogatory.

It is possible he didn’t mean it badly, as Pope Francis has always been quite blasé when prompted to give his opinions on LGBTQIA+.

In 2013, he replied ‘Who am I to judge?’ when asked for his thoughts on a gay priest running a church. He also said that being homosexual is ‘not a crime,’ in 2022.

But who can really know for sure?

The Pope is taking climate action 

While his views on the LGBTQIA+ community seem rather ambiguous, Pope Francis’ support for the environment and climate action is not.

Back in 2015, the Pope published an official letter which acknowledged the warnings coming from global climate scientists.

He labelled rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and warming of the climate system ‘troubling,’ while calling for a renewal of the dialogue on how humanity is building our planet’s future.

The Pope’s support for climate action was cemented in 2022, when the Vatican joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Now, news of his plan to run Vatican City entirely on renewables is a clear signal that Pope Francis is not just a climate activist, but is actively participating in making a much-needed change.

It’s good to see living completely immersed in religion hasn’t completely blinded him from understanding just how rapidly the outside world is changing.