In July, Pope Francis told young people to “reduce consumption not only of fossil fuels, but of many superfluous things” like meat.

Now, a new study says the Catholic Church can reduce carbon emissions by returning to the Friday fast.

Researchers say that if Pope Francis reinstated the fast, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tons per year.

Professor Shaun Larcom from the Cambridge University’s Department of Land Economy, lead author of the study, said:

“The Catholic Church is very well placed to help mitigate climate change, with more than one billion followers around the world. Meat agriculture is one of the major drivers of greenhouse gas emissions.

Pope Francis has already highlighted the moral imperative for action on the climate emergency, and the important role of civil society in achieving sustainability through lifestyle change.

If the Pope was to reinstate the obligation for meatless Fridays to all Catholics globally, it could be a major source of low-cost emissions reductions, even if only a minority of Catholics choose to comply, as we find in our case study.”

If Catholics in England and Wales switched to meatless Fridays, they found it would mean 55,000 tons less carbon emissions over a year.

That’s equivalent to 82,000 plane trips from London to New York.

Pray for the care of our common home!


Study: Food for the Soul and the Planet: Measuring the Impact of the Return of Meatless Fridays for (some) UK Catholics, Social Science Research (2022).
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