In his 192-page ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME, on the climatic and environmental crises afflicting planet Earth, published on June 18, 2015, Pope Francis did not list nuclear power as a solution. In fact, he cited the threats and risks created by nuclear power, as well as nuclear weapons, as referenced below.
Thanks to Tim Judson, Executive Director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, for providing a prompt analysis of Pope Francis' encyclical, identifying the following excerpts, in order of relevance:
In the 184th paragraph, in Chapter Five, LINES OF APPROACH AND ACTION, under Section III, DIALOGUE AND TRANSPARENCY IN DECISION-MAKING, Pope Francis wrote: In the face of possible risks to the environment which may affect the common good now and in the future, decisions must be made “based on a comparison of the risks and benefits foreseen for the various possible alternatives”. This is especially the case when a project may lead to a greater use of natural resources, higher levels of emission or discharge, an increase of refuse, or significant changes to the landscape, the habitats of protected species or public spaces. Some projects, if insufficiently studied, can profoundly affect the quality of life of an area due to very different factors such as unforeseen noise pollution, the shrinking of visual horizons, the loss of cultural values, or the effects of nuclear energy use. The culture of consumerism, which prioritizes short-term gain and private interest, can make it easy to rubber-stamp authorizations or to conceal information. (emphasis added)
In Chapter One, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR COMMON HOME, appearing in Section I, on POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE, in a sub-section entitled "Pollution, waste and the throwaway culture," at the 21st paragraph, Pope Francis wrote: Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected. (emphasis added)
In the 104th paragraph, in Chapter Three, THE HUMAN ROOTS OF THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS, Section I, TECHNOLOGY: CREATIVITY AND POWER, Pope Francis wrote: Yet it must also be recognized that nuclear energy, biotechnology, information technology, knowledge of our DNA, and many other abilities which we have acquired, have given us tremendous power. More precisely, they have given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world. Never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used. We need but think of the nuclear bombs dropped in the middle of the twentieth century, or the array of technology which Nazism, Communism and other totalitarian regimes have employed to kill millions of people, to say nothing of the increasingly deadly arsenal of weapons available for modern warfare. In whose hands does all this power lie, or will it eventually end up? It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it. (emphasis added)
In the 3rd paragraph, in the introduction, in a sub-section entitled "Nothing in this world is indifferent to us," Pope Francis wrote: More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.
In the 57th paragraph, Pope Francis wrote: It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars, albeit under the guise of noble claims. War always does grave harm to the environment and to the cultural riches of peoples, risks which are magnified when one considers nuclear arms and biological weapons. “Despite the international agreements which prohibit chemical, bacteriological and biological warfare, the fact is that laboratory research continues to develop new offensive weapons capable of altering the balance of nature”. Politics must pay greater attention to foreseeing new conflicts and addressing the causes which can lead to them. But powerful financial interests prove most resistant to this effort, and political planning tends to lack breadth of vision. What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so? (emphasis added)
The concluding sentence of the 20th paragraph, in Chapter One, WHAT IS HAPPENING TO OUR COMMON HOME, Section I, POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE, seems directly relevant to the issue of nuclear power as a false solution to the climate crisis: Technology, which, linked to business interests, is presented as the only way of solving these problems, in fact proves incapable of seeing the mysterious network of relations between things and so sometimes solves one problem only to create others.