Pope Francis released his much-awaited encyclical on the environment in June this year, entitled 'Laudato Si'. Here are some of the key points from the encyclical:
1. We need to tidy up
'The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilised in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population… Frequently no measures are taken until after people's health has been irreversibly affected. These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish.'
2. Climate change is real
'A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climactic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.'
3. It's our problem to solve
'The poorest areas and countries are less capable of adopting new models for reducing environmental impact because they lack the wherewithal to develop the necessary processes and to cover their costs. We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities… We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalisation of indifference.'
4. Respect for humanity central to respect for the environment
'There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then our overall sense of responsibility wanes… Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognised and valued.'
5. Preserving the environment is inseparable for helping the poor
'Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live… Recognising the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behaviour patterns, and the ways it grasps reality. Given the scale of change, it is no longer possible to find a specific, discrete answer for each part of the problem… We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combatting poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.'
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Catholic Earthcare is the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference's ecological agency, and works to ensure Catholic communities across the country do their part in working towards a cleaner, sustainable future for our society.
A number of resources have been developed to help Catholic communities follow up on the teachings of Laudato Si. They include:
Some key actions: http://catholicearthcare.org.au/ecological-encyclical/take-action-today/
Resources for schools: http://catholicearthcare.org.au/ecological-encyclical/the-encyclical-in-schools/
Resources for parishes: http://catholicearthcare.org.au/ecological-encyclical/the-encyclical-in-parishes/
Stay tuned to Australian Catholics for more resources related to Laudato Si.
Photo: Bro. Jeffrey Pioquinto, SJ; Flickr