THE Catholic Church is known for its positions on heavenly matters, but this week the Pope has brought the focus back down to earth.

Pope Francis has released an unprecedented encyclical on climate change in support of the environment, and Rockhampton's Bishop Michael McCarthy has praised the message.

The document is 180 pages of unwavering support for the improvement of environmental practice, even taking aim at the UN for its lack of improvement.

The Pope went so far as to describe the planet as becoming "an immense pile of filth".

The move places the church on the side of scientists and the concept of man-made climate change.

Bishop McCarthy, with a rich history in industrial chemistry himself, said the issue was increasingly relevant to the region.

"This is very relevant to us here in Central Queensland and especially Australia," he said.

"We have a beautiful Earth, we have a beautiful country. We see the extent now of pollution on the environment, and there's even the sense that climate change is starting to have its effects."

The Bishop said the relationship between the Earth and its people was particularly spiritual.

"It is a very, very special relationship that we have with our Earth, not unlike the indigenous people of this land... they talk about Mother Earth and the whole sense that there has to be a better relationship with our environment," he said.

"We just can't solve this alone, we really have to do this piece by piece, on a local level, a national level and an international level."

Bishop McCarthy said he would ensure relevant teachings were made for the region's Catholic community in a pastoral letter in the future.

Main Points

Encyclical summary:

Power: "Technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels, especially coal... needs to be progressively replaced without delay."

Poverty: "To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues."

Political response: "There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good."



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