Introduction to Laudato Si’
Pope Francis issued the encyclical Laudato Si’ (On the Care of Our Common Home) in 2015. In it he responds to the ecological crisis. Francis builds on the teachings of Saint John XXIII, Blessed Paul VI and Benedict XVI on environmental matters. This encyclical takes its name from the famous canticle of the creatures by St Francis of Assisi.
Contemplating the Ecological Crisis
Pope Francis begins by contemplating the ecological crisis. He reflects on problems such as pollution, waste, the throw away culture, climate change, the water crisis, loss of biodiversity, links between ecological degradation and inequality, urbanisation, and the weak international political responses that have been made to date.
Along with wisdom from other sciences, Francis believes that faith has a contribution to make. Chapter 2 sets out a Biblical vision of creation and the place of human beings within it.
The Human Origins of the Crisis
In Chapter 3, Pope Francis stresses that the roots of the ecological crisis are human in origin. He discusses what he calls a technocratic paradigm, and anthropocentrism. Francis says that a technocratic paradigm that treats everything as an object to be used to generate profit has become globalised. He also criticises anthropocentrism which leads human beings not to value and respect the intrinsic dignity of other creatures and elements of creation.
In Chapter 4 Francis sets out an alternative vision of integral ecology. It stresses the interconnections between the environment and the human and social dimensions of the current crisis. He calls for an integral and sustainable human development which respects intergenerational justice.
Approaches to Action
Chapter 5 identifies five approaches to action: dialogue on the environment in the international community; new national and local policies and laws; transparent political processes; a dialogue between politics and economy for the sake of human fulfilment; and a dialogue between science and religion.
Spirituality & Education
Pope Francis concludes that above all it is human beings that must change. In Chapter 6 he calls us all to turn away from consumerism and to adopt a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle. Francis also calls for ecological education and also an ecological conversion. Christian spirituality can foster a new understanding of quality of life, and a deeper appreciation of the interconnectedness of all of God’s creation.
Access the full text of the encyclical here
Resources on Laudato Si’
Visit our Laudato Si’ Resources Page for videos, articles and more.
Laudato Si‘ Week 2016
We celebrated the first anniversary of the encyclical with a series of morning and evening prayers responding to quotes from Laudato Si’. Each one is accompanied by questions for reflection. Access the material here.