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19/06/2015 09:22 BST | Updated 18/06/2016 06:59 BST

Pope's Climate Message Will Ring Out Far Beyond the Church

It was no accident that his UK emissaries chose a primary school in East London for the launch of the Pope's new encyclical. Sometimes God moves in less mysterious ways.

Hunkered down against the soaring towers of Canary Wharf, the contrast between Our Lady and St Joseph's, an amalgamation of two of the poorest schools in the capital under one roof, and its neighbours could not be more stark nor have illustrated the Pope's point better.

In the Catholic faith, a Papal encyclical is a big deal. But this one will be a big deal way beyond the Church.

It's a long document, but with a simple message that is all the more powerful for the fact that it is neither mostly green nor only religious. He is sounding a warning about our failure to curb turbo-charged capitalism and globalisation and its effects on the planet (God's creation) and especially on the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world (part of God's creation).

In Laudato si (which means Praise be to You) the Pope thoughtfully and very, very thoroughly explores the evidence and the arguments surrounding our impact on our environment. He focuses much attention on the climate crisis, but also covers the loss of species, the use of pesticides, air quality, water.

But for all its thorough underpinning and learned nature, to focus on the issues would be to miss the point. It's how it speaks and from whose pen the ink on the page comes and that the Pope clearly and incisively blames humanity and the economic system it has created that matters.

The politics of climate change are currently deadlocked and our attempts to tackle the greatest collective threat ever faced are falling disastrously short of the mark not because the risks aren't clearly understood or the solutions viable. They're being thwarted by timid politicians who are too often in thrall to energy giants and leaders of financial markets and by the sheer, overpowering dominance of economics.

The power of his intervention is that he names the cause of the crises in our environment and with inequality. It's the all-powerful Market (capital 'M' intentional) - and we have subcontracted too much of our decision making to it.

Neither Friends of the Earth nor Pope Francis are anti-business. Laudato si isn't calling for an end to capitalism; for everything to re-nationalised. But, as the encyclical says 'The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.' Amen to that and ditto in the case of inequality.

The Pope's people chose an East London school to launch their Pontiff's message and to illustrate the shuddering inequality that exists even in the UK. And yet, while the gods of finance chew up and spit out energy and resources for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Our Lady and St Joseph's has maximum insulation, solar panels and air source heat pumps.

With energy secretary Amber Rudd's ironically juxtaposed attack on onshore wind power kicking off even before the ink was dry on Laudato si there's little sign of stronger political leadership any time soon, in the UK at least. So we must draw our inspiration from other places however unlikely. The Pope has shown that the Vatican is one such place. The people of Lancashire have shown the same on fracking. Our Lady and St Joseph's is a beacon. One day, those we elect to lead will follow.