It cannot have escaped your notice, but on Thursday 18th June 2015, Pope Francis published his long-awaited encyclical “Laudato Si” on the environment. A papal encyclical is an extended letter containing an important message, usually addressed to Catholic Church leaders, but this encyclical is for ‘every person living on this planet’. Much of the focus has been on what it says about climate change, but it also covers biodiversity loss, water shortages and pollution. The Pope sees the over-consumption of the developed West as a major problem. Over the last few days there have been very many assessments of the encyclical, and rather than add to these we have selected some of the best that will hopefully give you a full flavour of the encyclical and its impact.
1) The first point is that the encyclical is a LONG document at 184 pages. So if you wanted a quick summary of the main points Alexei Laushkin of the Evangelical Environmental Network produced Quotable Laudato Si ‘Praised Be’. Martin Davis of Cheltenham kindly sent us his extracts of the key points, at only nine pages! Alexei went on to give a more considered opinion in First Take on Laudato Si ‘Praised Be’
2) The Catholic Herald gave this report: Encyclical: The planet is at breaking point, says Pope Francis
3) Although the encyclical is primarily a theological and moral document it does contain some science, and scientists have shown their approval: Pope’s Encyclical Makes Grade in Climate Science The scientists asked for their opinion included Michael Mann (of hockey stick graph fame) who said “he gets the science right”. Nancy Vosnidou approached the topic from a science communications angle wondering why the Pope was more successful at communicating climate change than the scientists have been! See: Could the Pope’s Encyclical Push Public Opinion to Tipping Point on Climate?
4) Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, wrote a very positive response: Anglican environmental network chair welcomes Papal climate encyclical
5) The Church Times had details of the launch of the encyclical in the UK: Pope’s encyclical blames ‘extreme consumerism’ for the planet’s ills
6) Of the secular newspapers, The Guardian probably gave the biggest coverage: Pope’s climate change encyclical tells rich nations: pay your debt to the poor (and several other articles on the same day)
7) A number of Christian environmental groups have endorsed the Pope’s encyclical: A Rocha; Lausanne Creation Care Network; and Operation Noah.
8) John Weaver, the Chair of the JRI Board wrote for the JRI Blog: The Pope’s welcome environmental manifesto
9) Of course there has been opposition, particularly from some Republicans in the United States. For example: Jeb Bush joins Republican backlash against pope on climate change
10) And finally a little humour. The Onion gave this satirical assessment: Frustrated Republicans Argue Pope Should Leave Science To Scientists Who Deny Climate Change
In summary the encyclical contains a powerful message urging everyone to respond to the environmental crisis. This is especially timely as the major Paris climate change meeting approaches in December this year.
Dr Martin Hodson (JRI Operations Manager)