The Latin title Laudato Si (Praised Be To You) is taken from St. Francis’ ‘Canticle of the Sun’, a hymn of praise to God for His creations written in 1224.
The encyclical has six chapters with 246 paragraphs running through 184 pages. One could find several main themes such as – the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, – the conviction that everything in the world is connected, – the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, – the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, – the value proper to each creature, – the human meaning of ecology, – the need for forthright and honest debate, – the serious responsibility of international and local policy, – the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle (no.16).
The issue of water (nos. 27-31), loss of biodiversity (nos.32-42) and global inequality (nos. 48-52) are also addressed in this encyclical.
“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (no.160). This question leads us to ask ourselves many questions such as “What is the purpose of our life in this world? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us?” “Unless we struggle with these deeper issues – says the Pope – I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results” (no.160).
The roots of the problems in technocracy and in an excessive self-centeredness of human being are analyzed (chapter 3).
The Encyclical proposes (chapter 4) an “integral ecology, which clearly respects its human and social dimensions” (no.137), inextricably linked to the environmental question.
A ray of hope flows through the entire Encyclical with a clear message: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (no.13). “Men and women are still capable of intervening positively” (no.58). “All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start” (no.205).
Pope Francis proposes specially “to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (no.3). The dialogue runs throughout the text and, no.2 in chapter 5, it becomes the instrument for addressing and solving problems. From the beginning, Pope Francis recalls that “other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have also expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections” on the theme of ecology (no.7).
The papal intervention comes six months before international leaders gather in Paris to try and seal a global deal on steps to reduce carbon emissions. Hence we believe that the world leaders take the issues of global warming as amoral issue and commit to halt additional climate change.
The encyclical highlights the Church’s role to consider ecological issues from the viewpoint of humanity, to provide a moral compass that motivates all to do the right thing.
It has once again elevated the church’s powerful voice on the moral imperative of advancing justice, defending human dignity and protecting the poor. It emphasises the pope’s view of a clear link between defending the environment and delivering social justice.
As we all know, an encyclical is a statement of fundamental principles designed to guide Catholic teaching on ecology. And also it is a letter from the pope to bishops around the world.
For the Encyclical click here