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Pope eyes worldwide audience for environment encyclical

Pope Francis is cheered by the crowd as he arrives for an audience with Italian AGESCI boy scouts association's members in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Saturday, June 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is looking for a global audience for his upcoming encyclical on the environment, saying Sunday it’s meant for everyone, not just Catholics.

Francis engaged in some self-promotion during his weekly blessing, alerting the thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square that his first solo encyclical is coming out on Thursday and inviting them to pay attention to environmental degradation around them.

“This encyclical is aimed at everyone: Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has given us,” he said.

The eagerly awaited document will be launched at a Vatican news conference Thursday that underscores Francis’ insistence that it’s not just for Catholics: The three speakers are a Vatican cardinal, a Greek Orthodox theologian and an atheist scientist.

In the encyclical, Francis is expected to lay out the moral imperative to fight global warming, since the poor are the most affected by it.

Francis has said he wanted to get the encyclical out in plenty of time before negotiators meet in Paris at the end of the year to hammer out a deal to reduce greenhouse gases to a level that keeps global warming below 2 degrees C (3.6 F), compared with pre-industrial times.

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