Praise of an ecological teaching letter to the world from the Pope



The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.
Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 18, 2015


Click / right-click to download the encyclical (PDF)

On Thursday 18 June 2015, the Vatican released the Pope’s much-anticipated encyclical on climate change and the environment, entitled ‘Laudato Si’ or ‘Praised Be’.

In this 184-page teaching letter containing 42,000 words, directed not only to the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, but to humanity as a whole, Pope Francis flatly rejects the traditional conservative and Christian justifications for exploiting the planet, polluting and destroying the environment.

Climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. #LaudatoSi
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 18, 2015


“The ecological crisis is essentially a spiritual problem. The church must now introduce in its teaching about sin, the sin against the environment.”
John Zizioulas, Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan

Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility. #LaudatoSi
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 19, 2015


Quotes from the encyclical

“The current global situation engenders a feeling of instability and uncertainty, which in turn becomes “a seedbed for collective selfishness”. When people become self-centred and self-enclosed, their greed increases. The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume. It becomes almost impossible to accept the limits imposed by reality.

In this horizon, a genuine sense of the common good also disappears. As these attitudes become more widespread, social norms are respected only to the extent that they do not clash with personal needs. So our concern cannot be limited merely to the threat of extreme weather events, but must also extend to the catastrophic consequences of social unrest. Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.”

“There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”

“There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”

“The principle of the maximisation of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very concept of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is given to whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity, or the increased pollution.

In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. ‘Yet only when the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognised with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations,’ can those actions be considered ethical.

An instrumental way of reasoning, which provides a purely static analysis of realities in the service of present needs, is at work whether resources are allocated by the market or by state central planning.”
Pope Francis, ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical

A prayer for our Earth

– and for people of all faiths

“At the conclusion of this lengthy reflection which has been both joyful and troubling, I propose that we offer two prayers. The first we can share with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator, while in the other we Christians ask for inspiration to take up the commitment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus.”
Page 178 in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter ‘Laudato Si – Of The Holy Father Francis On Care For Our Common Home’

A prayer for our earth

All-powerful God,
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

An integral ecology includes taking time to reflect on our lifestyle and our ideals. #LaudatoSi
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 19, 2015



Pope Francis’ leadership on issues such as poverty, justice, and the environment is an inspiration. While the encyclical draws on a long tradition of Catholic teaching on the environment and social justice, it is significant because it is the first time an encyclical has been devoted entirely to environmental issues. It appears the world is listening. This could be “this summer’s biggest blockbuster”, one American blogger wrote, and there is an overwhelming amount information and promotion for initiatives circulating on social media concerning the release of the Papal Encyclical. Below are some examples.

“An all-together new paradigm”
Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne

“I think it is difficult to underestimate the moral authority that the Pope brings to acting on climate with this encyclical. I suspect we will look back at this moment as a turning point, and we will view Pope Francis as one of the great heroes in modern history.”
Michael Mann, a Penn State climate scientist, USA


“By the Pope’s own standards, his own words, we have seen [Australian Prime Minister] Tony Abbott, supposedly a man of faith, be a spiritual and moral failure when it comes to tackling climate change.”
Richard Di Natale, leader of The Australian Greens

“As I read it, the [Australian] Prime Minister has a choice. As a Catholic, he can listen to Pope Francis who is the spiritual leader of his faith tradition or, alternatively, he can continue to operate as an ally to extractive industries. At root, this is a choice between caring for Creation and protecting vested interests.”
Professor Neil Ormerod, Catholic spokesperson from the group Australian Religious Response to Climate Change

(Neil Ormerod has mentioned as an example that one consequence could be that the government must stop subsidising the oil-gas-coal industry. Currently the Australian government subsidises the fossil fuel industries with close to $12 billion a year, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation.)

“Pope Francis and I agree that climate change is a moral issue that requires collective urgent action. It is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics”
Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General

“You need to master the global will to do this transformation. It will not be like the industrial revolution which just happened by chance. It will be by design, by will, by faith.”
John Schellnhuber, Professor

“The pope is talking about what should we be doing, not here is a political agenda that you must accept. I think that’s the richness of his contribution to all of this. There is a human dimension in everything we do, and that therefore carries with it a moral and ethical dimension.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington – on Fox News

Worth a read: @POTUS on @Pontifex‘s encyclical urging action on climate change → #LaudatoSi
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 18, 2015

“I welcome His Holiness Pope Francis’s encyclical” — @POTUS on @Pontifex making the case to #ActOnClimate. #LaudatoSi
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 18, 2015

“This marks the first time that a person of great authority in our global culture has fully recognized the scale and depth of our crisis, and the consequent necessary rethinking of what it means to be human.” Bill McKibben, author and climate activist


» Global Catholic Climate Movement:
Why ‘Laudato Si’’ is the perfect encyclical for millennials – Pope Francis addresses a generation’s top concerns
by Kerry Weber

» The Monthly – 1 July 2015:
Laudato Si’: A political reading
The papal encyclical is the first work that has risen to the full challenge of climate change

» Wired – 18 June 2015:
The Pope’s memo on climate change is a mind-blower

#UNSG Ban Ki-moon welcomes @Pontifex encyclical on climate change & environment: #LaudatoSi
— UNFCCC (@UNFCCC) June 18, 2015

“In an action both simple and bold, Pope Francis will pierce humanity’s blindness to the realities of modern life. At a vital moment in world history, he is calling on us to halt our wanton destruction of people and planet and move decisively to a global economy that is just, compassionate, and sustainable.”
Robert Massie, Episcopal priest, expert on climate finance

@climateprogress: The Pope is he Climate Change Churchill humanity desperately needs
— Mik Aidt (@mikaidt) June 20, 2015

“As well as an important tool in helping others, especially Catholics, to understand and accept the limitations of economic growth. Pope Francis explains how the environmental and social crises we are experiencing will require ‘profound changes in lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies.’ Few in the world have as large a reach as the pope, so it is encouraging to hear him speaking so clearly on these crucial issues.” Where is Pope Francis on Economic Growth?

Some really good reflections on the Pope’s encyclical from Belinda Reyers here.

Posted by Stockholm Resilience Centre on Friday, 19 June 2015