The world is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical on ecology, “Laudato Si”, and much of those celebrations are focused on taking climate action. In Australia Thursday, four Catholic orders shifted their investments away from coal, oil and gas companies in the first ever joint Catholic divestment announcement. The moral case against fossil fuels has powered countless actions around the world, including the Interfaith Climate Statement, the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change, and the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change this year. For Catholics, high-profile actions, including a Spanish Cathedral going 100 per cent renewable, and countless churches taking part in the energy transition are adding to the momentum sparked by the Pope in June 2015. On the individual level, people are sharing stories of how they are living Pope Francis’ words using the #LiveLaudatoSi hashtag. Given the excitement buzzing from Laudato Si Week, and potential of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world finding ways to “live Laudato Si” , the impact of Pope Francis’ words to “care for our common home,” could prove massive.
- The anniversary of Pope Francis’ encyclical is both a time to celebrate caring for creation and a time to take action. A year after the encyclical – which focused on ecology – was delivered Catholic climate momentum continues to grow. Groundbreaking divestment announcements are becoming common, renewable energy projects involving churches and cathedrals ramping up, and more Catholic leaders than ever speaking out for climate action.
- If Catholics live Laudato Si, it can make a real difference for the climate. Around the world, there are 1.2 billion Catholics, more than 220,000 churches, and over 100,000 catholic primary and secondary schools. – all offering ample surface space to install rooftop solar panels. What’s even more encouraging is that new polling from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate shows that 68 per cent of Catholics believe we have a moral responsibility to personally act on climate change, and 73 per cent of Catholics believing society needs to take steps to address climate change.
- Anyone, regardless of their faith, can live Laudato Si. Pope Francis stressed in his encyclical that we are all connected to each other by the planet we all share. Anyone can reduce their energy consumption levels, shift their investments away from harmful fossil fuels, embrace renewable energy or simply speak out. The numerous faith-related climate announcements taking place since Laudato Si was published show that when it comes to moral imperative for taking action, climate change is an issue shared across all divides.
Pope Francis long awaited Encyclical on the environment is called “Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home”.
It was an open letter to shape Catholic teaching globally about humanity’s universal responsibility to “care for our common home” and tackle the root causes of the greatest interlinked challenges of our time: climate change and poverty.
The Encyclical builds on Francis’ previous statements on the “clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act” in order to protect the environment.
His Holiness joined scientists, business leaders, economists, investors, doctors, trade unions, youth, and other moral and spiritual leaders around the world who are all called for a transition from dirty fossil fuels to a future powered by clean renewables, making the moral case for climate action as definitive and unassailable as the 97 per cent scientific consensus.
The Encyclical acknowledges the robust science and is expected to influence global politics, but it is not a scientific or a political document. It is a profound moral call on humanity to reject ‘capitalism at all cost’ in favour of love and care for our environment and the world’s poor.