Pope Francis’s Encyclical on the Environment

After much anticipation, Pope Francis released Laudato Si (“Praised Be”), an encyclical on climate and justice to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.” 

Pope Francis Wave 2 - Catholic Church England and WalesClick here to read Laudato Si
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Here are some encyclical excerpts and a map to help you understand the main themes.

Earth Ministry has been following the process for a year now, and this page is to give you an early look at some of our thinking and planning about this world-changing document.

First, the Pope is not reaching new conclusions in calling for a moral and spiritual transformation in our connection to Earth’s ecosystems. Caring for creation is as old as Genesis, as clear as the Sermon on the Mount, as transformative as St. Francis. The sainted Pope Jon Paul II and the retired Pope Benedict both spoke frequently and eloquently about the Christian requirement to tend the garden and protect the poorest. Caring for creation is one of the seven tenants of Catholic Social Teaching. This encyclical is clear Catholic theology.

What is new is that Pope Francis is moving environmental protection to the fore. He says that all life depends on clean air and water, and a stable and reliable climate. As a chemist by background and with a team of scientists and an observatory at the Vatican, the Pope is clear that climate change is the greatest threat life our Earth has ever seen – and that it is caused by humans. And as a priest, he stands in protection and care for his flock, 1.2 billion Catholics world-wide, and for all God’s children, especially the poorest.

Perhaps the most important new focus of the encyclical is the relationship between global poverty, catastrophic inequality, and worship of the golden calf of consumerism that leads to environmental destruction. The Pope does not stint in his condemnation of worshiping gross national product over human life and health. The poor and marginal are his greatest concern, and they suffer the most from economic and environmental injustice. He is their champion and he will not rest.

Over the next few months, you will be hearing more from Earth Ministry about our planned activities and partnerships around the Papal encyclical in Washington State. We will connect with you about best strategies to integrate the Pope’s message into solid climate policy and real limits on pollution. We hope to see you at liturgies, lectures, and opportunities for action on behalf of Pope Francis’ powerful and coherent message.

In the meantime, here are some of the best articles on the encyclical to date:

The Moral Issue of Our Time:
Pope Francis’ climate change encyclical will be a hugely important step for the church

Pope Francis to promote climate action as moral imperative

Pope Francis forces the issue on climate change

The pope as messenger: making climate change a moral issue

Turkson talks papal encyclical, ‘integral ecology’ at Irish lecture

“Tilled too much and kept too little”: An Outline of the Ecology Encyclical?

Frequently Asked Questions on the Papal Encyclical: Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale

EPA chief headed to Vatican to talk climate change

‘Rock-star pope’ intends to amplify his climate message

Latino Catholics Lead Their Faith on Climate

Press for Earth Ministry’s encyclical celebration event:

Los Angeles Times: Pope Francis, in leaked draft letter, calls for curbing global warming
Earth Ministry’s LeeAnne Beres and Jessie Dye were interviewed by Bill Yardley of the LA Times regarding the Pope’s encyclical and cutting carbon emissions, and a quote from Jessie was included in the story.

Warren Olney’s To the Point: Pope’s Urgent Call for Action on Climate Change
Jessie Dye was a guest on the national NPR show “To the Point” on June 18. She joined an international Vatican correspondent, a member of the UN Panel on Climate Change, and a senior fellow from the Heritage Foundation in discussing the Pope’s call to action on climate. [Scroll down to the second half of the show entitled “Pope’s Urgent Call for Action on Climate Change.” Jessie is featured around 17 minutes in.]

National Catholic Reporter: Seattle Catholics plan encyclical related event tomorrow evening
This national publication picked up Earth Ministry’s press release and published a pre-event article the day before the encyclical release celebration at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.

West Seattle Blog: Thursday: Our Lady of Guadalupe to host Seattle-wide follow-up to Pope’s environmental encyclical
Pre-encyclical release event announcement for the celebration at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish.

West Seattle Blog: Thursday: Our Lady of Guadalupe to host Seattle-wide follow-up to Pope’s environmental encyclical
Full detailed coverage of the encyclical celebration at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish. [The WS Blog reported the number of attendees who showed up early for a tour of the church’s green buildings, solar panels, and gardens (150) as opposed to the total number that attended the service (over 400).]

NW Catholic: Seattle Parish Celebrates Release of Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change
Regional coverage of the encyclical celebration event at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, featuring quotes from several of the speakers including Jessie Dye.

KOUW: Pope’s Alarm Bell On Climate Change Heard In Puget Sound
Local NPR interview with Jessie Dye speaking about the faith community’s role in protecting the “Thin Green Line” of the Northwest from fossil fuel projects, and the Pope’s encyclical and climate change. It also featured audio of Fr. Jack Walmseley giving a tour of Our Lady of Guadalupe’s solar panels as recorded by Earth Ministry.

Seattle Times: Pope Francis, science and government are reframing climate change
Earth Ministry collaborated with Physicians for Social Responsibility to publish this OpEd by Father Stephen Sundborg, President of Seattle University, and Dr. Howard Frumpkin, Dean of the UW School of Public Health, which combines the message of Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and the prestigious British medical association Lancet’s published study on the hearth effects of climate change (both released around the same time in June).