Laudato si’ – On the Care for our Common Home is the Pope’s Encyclical Letter on the environment and human ecology.
Pope Francis challenges us to consider the kind of world we want to leave to those who come after us. It’s not just an ‘environment encyclical’, it leads us to ask ourselves about the meaning of existence and the values at the heart of social life: “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?”
Pope Francis, quoting Pope Saint John Paul II, reminds us that, as Christians, we are called to be responsible custodians of creation:
“Christians in their turn ‘realise that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith’”.
The Encyclical is divided into six chapters.
It starts by presenting the current situation based on the best scientific findings available today (Chapter one), followed by a review of the Bible and Judeo-Christian tradition (Chapter 2).
The root of the problems in technocracy and in an excessive self-centeredness of human being are analysed in Chapter 3.
In Chapter 4, the Encyclical then proposes an “integral ecology, which clearly respects its human and social dimensions”, inextricably linked to the environmental question.
With this in mind, Pope Francis proposes to initiate an honest dialogue at every level of social, economic and political life, that builds transparent decision-making processes (Chapter 5).
In the final chapter, recalling that no project can be effective if it is not animated by a formed and responsible conscience, ideas are put forth to aid growth in this direction at the educational, spiritual, ecclesial, political and theological levels.
The text ends with two prayers. One offered for sharing with everyone who believes in “God who is the all powerful Creator”, and the other to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, punctuated by the refrain “Praise be to you!” which opens and closes the Encyclical.
Several central themes run through the text that are addressed from a variety of different perspectives, thus traversing and unifying the text:
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
What is Happening to our Common Home
The Gospel of Creation
The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
Lines of Approach and Action
Ecological Education and Spirituality
You can download a 10-page PDF summary that will guide you through an initial reading of the Encyclical and the full Encyclical Laudato si’ by using the links below or to the right of this article.
If you want to buy a hard copy of Laudato si’, you can pre-order from the Catholic Truth Society. Click to purchase for £4.95.
Our full web section for the Encyclical Letter Laudato si’.