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'A New Start': Pope Francis' Powerful Call to Action on Climate Change

06/19/2015 12:53 pm ET | Updated Jun 19, 2016

In the "Canticle of the Creatures," Saint Francis of Assisi praises God for the majesty of His creation, saying "all praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us." It is an inspiring reminder of our powerful connection to the natural world -- and a fitting inspiration for the title of Pope Francis' groundbreaking encyclical on climate change "Laudato Si," or "Praised Be."

I have long believed that faith has the power to change our world for the better, and leaders like Pope Francis are uniquely positioned to outline the inherent duty we have to one another, to our environment and to our children. With today's encyclical, Pope Francis looks to the patron saint of the environment--and his namesake -- and does more than simply outline our moral responsibility and the crisis humanity faces: he challenges us to act.

"Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years," says Pope Francis, before delivering a powerful message of hope for our world. "Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start."

This truly is a watershed moment in the fight to build a clean energy future for our children and tackle climate change once and for all. In urgent and inspirational language, Pope Francis powerfully implores our leaders to take action on climate change, protect the most vulnerable and secure our children's future. With this encyclical, Pope Francis calls us to stand up for what is good and make a new start by embracing solutions to the climate crisis.

He now joins a diverse chorus, including military and business leaders, demanding we do more than simply acknowledge that our climate is changing. If we are to preserve our economic prosperity and security, and protect the most vulnerable among us, we must take swift and decisive action to protect our common home. Today.

Just last year, 16 retired three- and four-star generals and admirals issued a report, National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change, identifying climate change as a "catalyst for conflict," and the Pentagon's 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review laid out the very serious threat posed by climate change -- including poverty and political instability. Meanwhile, economists and business leaders understand that climate change has enormous consequences for our jobs, our economic prosperity and our security.

While we may not agree on every issue, the negative effects of climate change transcend geography and partisan divisions -- we will all feel the impacts, and must all be part of the solution. Now is the time for our political leaders to stand with Pope Francis and military and business leaders across the country and embrace solutions to the climate crisis.