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What are Laudato Si and Laudate Deum? Justice for the Environment!

By Olivia Klostermann



Last week was Laudato Si week, a week initiated by Pope Francis in 2015 that calls Catholics, Christians and all other religious and non-religious members of the global community to “care for our common home” - the Earth. This is celebrated annually in May, the month in which Pope Francis initially published his encyclical “Laudato Si” all the way back in 2015.


Before discussing “Laudato Si”, I think it’s first important to clarify what an encyclical itself actually is. By definition, an encyclical is a letter from the Pope to all Catholics, which teaches the Catholic understanding and call to action on a particular current issue. “Laudato Si”, however, broke this tradition, being the first ever encyclical addressed to “every living person on this planet” (LS 3), both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, due to the global enormity of Climate Change. 


So, for a bit of information on what “Laudato Si” is:


This is a papal encyclical addressed to everyone on Earth expressing the urgency to increase education surrounding the suffering state of the environment during the global Climate Change Crisis. Thus, it acts as a call to the world’s population to protest environmentally friendly changes to the way governments operate and individuals live their daily lives.


This encyclical is compiled of six chapters. The first is titled, “What is Happening to our Common Home?”, and discusses issues of climate change, water pollution, air pollution, habitat loss, water scarcity, loss of biodiversity and global inequality. The second chapter discusses how the Bible calls humanity to care for God’s Creation, the environment as well as everything living within it, including other humans. Chapter 3 proceeds to discuss the main causes of all the environmental climate crises. These mostly notably include the ineffective use of technology, which, rather than being used to create renewable energy sources, is allowing the continual destruction of the Earth’s habitat, as well as wasteful human nature and the view that humans have complete control over nature. In other words, the Pope is practically saying that the root of the various environmental crises is humanity itself, so it MUST be humanity’s behaviour that changes to stop, let alone reverse, environmental degradation.


On a more positive note, the following three chapters detail the possible solutions that the Pope offers to the world as a starting point to reverse as much environmental damage as possible. This includes international agreements to protect the environment, drastic decreases in carbon emissions, use of renewable energy and a personal life that is less focused on consumerism and materialism.



“Laudato Si” especially draws attention to the injustice created by the climate crisis between economically developed countries and less economically developed countries. Correctly, Pope Francis denotes how, ironically and deeply unfortunately, it is the countries that are contributing the least to climate change and are not reaping the rewards of mass consumerism and materialism, that are suffering the most from its effects. Therefore, he denotes the importance of the rich to place money and education into science and technology that will benefit rather than harm the environment and therefore take care of, rather than further degenerate, the homes and habitats of both people and animals. 


As I have already mentioned, “Laudato Si” was published by Pope Francis 8 years ago back in 2015. However, as I’m sure everyone who watches the news, steps outside or even just has windows in their house will know, the multi-faceted Climate Crisis has done just about everything but get better since then. Hence, on the 4th of October 2023, in honour of the Feast Day of St Francis of Assissi, the Pope released an Apostolic Exhortation (a teaching document from the Pope) titled “Laudate Deum”, meaning “Praise God” (for all His creatures). This is far more urgent than “Laudato Si”, acknowledging how little action has been undertaken by the most fortunate towards sustainability since 2015, and how ineffective the small actions of individuals are in truly combatting the worsening ecological state of the world. 


Therefore, Pope Francis addresses the world’s ecological problems, humanity itself, imploring political change on both a national and international level, which must be protested for, and supported by, large corporations, to force governments and industries into ecologically friendly action. So, the Pope has not given up hope in humanity to reverse, and if not, at least prevent further environmental damage, stating   “say(ing) there is nothing to hope for... would mean exposing humanity, especially the poorest, to the worst impact of climate change” (LD #54). I think this is the most important of all the Pope’s messages. He is calling to attention the necessity to work as a community, to push for greater change within our nation and world, to not only benefit and protect ourselves and others but also the future of humanity. 


Whilst Loreto might not forget about the importance of the climate, it is the generations of Gen Z and Millennials - the main readers of “The Mary Word” - who are not only responsible for mass consumerism and the continuation of fast-fashion brands, but also the unethical working conditions and working hours that come with them. However, that also makes these generations, our generations, responsible for coming up with solutions to the degrading environment and actually implementing these solutions to preserve our planet for the future.


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