Italy/Vatican City: Thousands gather in support of Pope Francis' climate change encyclical

Thousands of people gathered in Vatican City's St. Peter's Square to show their support for the recent encyclical on climate change that Pope Francis recently published, Sunday. The protesters, people from many different religions and cultures, started at St. Peter's Basilica and proceeded through the streets of Rome. The demonstrators held banners with messages like 'world leaders: which side are you on?' and 'many faiths, one planet,' while others chanted phrases such as "climate action now." Pope Francis published the encyclical on June 18 - a 180-page document appealing to Catholic communities around the world - in which he called for changes in lifestyle and energy consumption to avoid the "unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem" before the end of the 21st century. The text, which also focuses on the perceived irresponsibility of more economically developed countries in their approach to climate change, highlights the plight of the poor, blaming the powerful and their misuse of resources for the unequal distribution of wealth in the world. Pope Francis has recently been criticized for delving into the climate change debate, receiving advice from several high-profile US public figures, including US Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, to stay away from science.