This post is part of the “Prelude to Paris” series highlighting updates and analysis on international climate negotiations in the lead up to the United Nations climate change conference – the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) — to be held in Paris this December. Other posts in the series are available here.
After months of anticipation, Pope Francis has released his encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. Encyclicals are letters written by a pope to the other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. In his 184-page letter, Pope Francis touched on many environmental issues facing the planet today: climate change, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, animal husbandry, genetically modified organisms and other “aspects of the present ecological crisis.” The encyclical’s title (which means “Praised Be”) is inspired after Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures. St. Francis’s life of simplicity and cooperation with nature is the embodiment of Pope Francis’ encyclical (after all, Pope Francis chose his name after St. Francis).
According to Pope Francis, it was necessary to discuss the breadth of environmental issues because “Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.” And indeed, substantial portions of the encyclical discuss the connection between environmental damage and the disproportionate impact such destruction has on people living in poverty. In a press conference yesterday, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, DC, noted that Pope Francis focused on society because “The starting point is the dignity of the human person as part of God’s plan in all of creation.”
RECAP: SACE previously wrote a blog entitled, “Sneak Peek at Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical,” based heavily on the previous work of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Of course, we didn’t cover the breadth and depth of issues in the encyclical, but for a blog, if we had to grade ourselves, we’d say we nailed it.
ADDITIONAL RECAP: In 2013, when Pope Francis became pope, SACE asked the question, “Is Pope Francis the New Green Pope?” Our answer at the time was, “Pope Francis has exhibited at least a few attributes of his predecessor, as well as his namesake St. Francis, that make a fairly strong case that he may be a Green Pope in the making.” We think we nailed that, too.