Pope Francis has released his Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum, ‘Praise God’, to ‘clarify and complete’ what he started in 2015 with his Encyclical Letter Laudato si’ on how we care for our common home. It has been released at the end of the Season of Creation on the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, 4th October 2023.
Welcoming the Apostolic Exhortation, Cardinal Vincent Nichols says it ‘ is the Pope’s heartfelt appeal to all people of good will, to communities, business, governments and international bodies that each play its part in facing and responding to the challenges of climate change. He asks each of us to contribute by efforts “to reduce pollution and waste, to consume with prudence” and thereby help “to create a new culture”.
‘Faith in God as creator and giver of all good gifts is foundational. The Pope’s final words are: “For when human beings claim to take God’s place they become their own worst enemies”.’ He commends this Exhortation to everyone’s ‘attention, study and action’.
In Laudate Deum, the Pope describes climate change leading to drought, extreme weather and global high temperatures as a ‘silent disease that affects everyone’. The Exhortation frequently defines the climate crisis as a ‘global societal issue’ where the impact and consequences are often felt by the world’s poorest people. Laudate Deum argues that humans are a part of nature, but that we are currently abusing this position, exploiting natural resources and minerals. Pope Francis writes: ‘Humans must be recognised as part of nature.’ He adds: ‘Let us stop thinking, then, of human beings as autonomous, omnipotent and limitless, and begin to think of ourselves differently, in a humbler but more fruitful way.’
Pope Francis also focuses on international cooperation, calling for a new global framework to safeguard the environment and promote human flourishing. He also says that ‘every little bit helps’. Efforts by households to reduce pollution and consume responsibly, have created a ‘new culture’: ‘Let us realise, then, that even though this does not immediately produce a notable effect from the quantitative standpoint, we are helping to bring about large processes of transformation rising from deep within society.’
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