Speaking off-the-cuff to a delegation of lawyers from member countries of the Council of Europe on Monday, Pope Francis said he was writing a second part of his Laudato si’ encyclical to update it to “current issues”.
The Pope was expressing his appreciation for the attorneys’ commitment to developing a legal framework aimed at protecting the environment.
“We must never forget that the younger generations have the right to receive a beautiful and livable world from us, and that this implies that we have a grave responsibility towards creation which we have received from the generous hands of God,” said the Pope. “Thank you for your contribution.”
In a statement later on Monday, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, explained that the new updated version of Laudato si’ will focus in particular on the most recent extreme weather events and catastrophes affecting people across five continents.
Laudato si’ is Pope Francis’ second encyclical letter. It was published on 18 June 2015, and bears the date 24 May of the same year, the Solemnity of Pentecost.
The document on the “care of the common home” draws its title from the incipit of St. Francis‘ Canticle of Creatures and opens with these words:
“’LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore’ – ‘Praise be to you, my Lord’. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. ‘Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
Shortly after its publication, the Pope himself sought to clarify the meaning of this encyclical during an audience he held on 21st July 2015 with participants in the Workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change the Commitment of the Cities”, in which he said: “This culture of care for the environment is not simply a ‘green’ — I say it in the true sense of the word — attitude, it isn’t just a ‘green”’attitude, it’s much more than that. Taking care of the environment means having an attitude of human ecology. That is, we cannot say that mankind is here and Creation, the environment, is there. Ecology is total, it’s human. This is what I sought to express in the Encyclical Laudato Si’: man cannot be separated from the rest; there is a relationship which is reciprocally influential, both the environment on the person, and the person in a way which affects the environment; and the effect bounces back to man when the environment is mistreated. For this reason, in response to a question I was asked I said: ‘No, it’s not a ‘green’ encyclical, it’s a social encyclical’. For in society, in the social life of mankind, we cannot forget to take care of the environment. Moreover, looking after the environment is a social attitude, which socializes us, in one sense or another — each person can give it the meaning he chooses — on the other hand, it enables us to welcome — I like the Italian expression, when they speak of the environment — Creation, what we are given as a gift, namely, the environment”.
In the encyclical, the Pope recalled that he chose the name Francis as a guide and as an inspiration for his pontificate: “I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”
And he launched his urgent appeal for protecting our common home to build a better future for all humanity, with no exceptions: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all. The worldwide ecological movement has already made considerable progress and led to the establishment of numerous organizations committed to raising awareness of these challenges. Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: ‘Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation’. All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”