Pope Pleads for Climate Action During D.C. Visit

"It seems clear to me... that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation," Pope Francis says at White House

Pope Francis visited President Obama at the White House Wednesday. Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

Pope Francis kicked off his first full day in the United States Wednesday by urging that America lead the fight against climate change. Speaking at the White House, the pope called the planet our "common home" and told President Obama he's "encourag[ed] that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution" at a "crucial moment in history," The Guardian reports.

"It seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation," Pope Francis said (via Mother Jones). "We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home."

Pope Francis' Washington D.C. visit will include a trip to Congress Thursday, where he is also expected to discuss the issue of climate change to the Republican-majority body; many GOP Congress members have actively downplayed evidence of climate change on the environment.

"To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it," the pope said Wednesday. "We know by faith that the creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home."

Obama agreed with the pope while speaking to the assembled crowd of 15,000 at the White House, telling Francis, "You remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet — God's magnificent gift to us."