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In dialogue with Francis' eco manifesto

  • 23 February 2018


Pope Francis released his environmental encyclical Laudato Si' on 18 June 2015. We've had time to read it, to digest it. Now we have the opportunity to live something of its call, and the first action we're invited to take is dialogue. This encyclical, the way it's structured, is dialogical.

Chapter one is about seeing; a clear-eyed look at the facts. Chapters two, three and four are about judging: how are we called to reflect on theology? How can we look at the situation analytically? What is this paradigm of integral ecology; a new way of seeing ourselves in space and time with everything around us?

Chapters five and six are all about action. Human tendency is always that we want to leap to action. Francis asks us to suspend that tendency, so that we can first be far more formed and informed by one another through dialogue, and ready to take action together, rather than bouncing off in ad hoc fashion.

In chapter one, 'What is happening in our common home?' Francis discusses pollution and the mentality of a throwaway culture. He talks about climate change, and the fact it is affecting so many species, and especially those peoples who have least caused the problem, who are having to deal with it at a very real level.

He reminds us of the impact of climate change on water resources, and he highlights the preciousness of fresh water, the lack of access for the human family at this time, and the ongoing concern for other species around access to fresh water on land, which is critical for all our survival.

He also looks at the social inequalities in our world. He talks about the gap between the rich and the poor, and the ever-growing concentration of wealth at one end of the spectrum. And he talks about biodiversity, the constant loss of species that is happening as we walk and talk and live on this planet.

At the very end of this chapter, he reminds us that all of the responses made to these issues so far have been very weak in the scheme of what we could really be doing. It's a very sobering read. Thankfully, the teaching continues.


"We need to do these things together. We can no longer just work on the social, and think someone else will look after the ecological."


In chapter two Francis talks about the richness of Catholic tradition, of sacred