Obama praises Pope Francis for making case on climate change

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama praised Pope Francis for issuing a papal document on Thursday calling for action on climate change and said he looked forward to discussing the issue when the two meet at the White House in September.

In the document, known as an encyclical, Pope Francis called for a change in lifestyle in rich countries to save the planet from environmental ruin and gave his firm backing to scientists who say global warming is thanks largely to human activity.

"I welcome His Holiness Pope Francis's encyclical, and deeply admire the Pope's decision to make the case - clearly, powerfully, and with the full moral authority of his position - for action on global climate change," Obama said in a statement.

"And as we prepare for global climate negotiations in Paris this December, it is my hope that all world leaders--and all God's children--will reflect on Pope Francis's call to come together to care for our common home."

Global warming is blamed by almost all experts on man-made greenhouse gas emissions for causing more heat waves, downpours and rising sea levels. The Paris summit on climate change aims to secure agreement that a rise in world temperatures will be limited to no more than two degrees Centigrade.

Obama, a Democrat, has made fighting climate change a top priority of his administration.

His backing of the pope contrasts with some U.S. Republican presidential candidates such as former Florida Governor Jeb Bush who say the Catholic Church should steer clear of the issue.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Alan Crosby)