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EPA Chief Meets With Vatican Officials Ahead of Papal Encyclical

The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency met Friday with Vatican officials who helped draft Pope Francis' upcoming encyclical on ecology, evidence that the Obama administration is seeking to hitch its climate-change message onto that of the popular pope. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters that her aim in visiting was to show the Vatican how aligned President Barack Obama and Francis are on climate change. "I think the most important thing that we can do, working with the pope, is to try to remind ourselves that this is really about protecting natural resources that human beings rely on, and that those folks that are most vulnerable — that the church has always been focused on, those in poverty and low income — are the first that are going to be hit and impacted by a changing climate," she said. While Pope Benedict XVI introduced solar energy to the Vatican and joined a reforestation project aimed at offsetting the Vatican's CO2 emissions, Francis has caught the world's attention for environmentalism, and his upcoming encyclical has drawn more speculation than any papal document in memory. During his recent Asia trip, Francis asserted that climate change is real and that human activity is "mostly" to blame.

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--- The Associated Press