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Laudato Si 101: What to Know About Pope Francis’ New Encyclical

June 18, 2015


On May 24, 2015, Pope Francis released his much-anticipated encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. It’s a magnificent, roving document that covers a range of topics including the environment, building an “integral ecology,” and effects of consumerism and indifference on our world.

Sometime today or this week, take time to read the entire text:

Read Laudato Si

To get you started, below you’ll find some helpful background information on the encyclical.

Basic Facts about Laudato Si

  • 183 pages in PDF form, roughly 40,673 words
  • Only social encyclical with a vernacular title (Italian) rather than Latin
  • Even though most papal documents are addressed to the bishops of the Church or the lay faithful, Pope Francis addressed this message to all people.
  • The title comes from St. Francis of Assisi’s famous hymn, “The Canticle of Creatures”
  • Popular words include “poor” (61 mentions), “crisis” (28), and “Jesus” (23).
  • The Pope’s stated goal for the encyclical: “In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (3)

Background for Laudato Si’

  • In 1998, the U.S. Bishops identified seven major themes of Catholic social teaching. One of the themes was “Care for Creation.”
  • The Catechism of the Catholic Church says this about creation: “The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.” (CCC 2415)
  • Pope Francis explicitly designates this encyclical as “now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching.” (15)

Outline of Laudato Si’

1. What is Happening to Our Common Home (17-19)

  • Pollution and Climate Change (20-26)
  • The Issue of Water (27-31)
  • The Loss of Biodiversity (32-42)
  • Decline in Quality of Human Life and the Breakdown of Society (43-47)
  • Global Inequality (48-52)
  • Weak Responses (53-59)
  • A Variety of Opinions (60-61)

2. The Gospel of Creation (62)

  • The Light Offered by Faith (63-64)
  • The Wisdom of Biblical Accounts (65-75)
  • The Mystery of the Universe (76-83)
  • The Message of Each Creature in the Harmony of Creation (84-88)
  • A Universal Communion (89-92)
  • The Common Destination of Goods (93-95)
  • The Gaze of Jesus (96-100)

3. The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis (101)

  • Technology: Creativity and Power (102-105)
  • The Globalization of the Technocratic Paradigm (106-114)
  • The Crisis and Effects of Modern Anthropocentrism (115-136)

4. Integral Ecology (137)

  • Environmental, Economic, and Social Ecology (138-142)
  • Cultural Ecology (143-146)
  • Ecology of Daily Life (147-155)
  • The Principle of the Common Good (156-158)
  • Justice Between the Generations (159-162)

5. Lines of Approach and Action (163)

  • Dialogue on the Environment in the International Community (164-175)
  • Dialogue for New National and Local Policies (176-181)
  • Dialogue and Transparency in Decision-Making (182-188)
  • Politics and Economy in Dialogue for Human Fulfillment (189-198)
  • Religions in Dialogue with Science (199-201)

6. Ecological Education and Spirituality (202)

  • Towards a New Lifestyle (203-208)
  • Educating for the Covenant Between Humanity and the Environment (209-215)
  • Ecological Conversion (216-221)
  • Joy and Peace (222-227)
  • Civic and Political Love (228-232)
  • Sacramental Signs and the Celebration of Rest (233-237)
  • The Trinity and the Relationship Between Creatures (238-240)
  • Queen of All Creation (241-242)
  • Beyond the Sun (243-246)

We invite you to read Laudato Si’ and together let’s reflect on caring for our common home:

Read Laudato Si’