When Pope Francis' Encyclical (Laudato Si) released in June, it carried the impact of moral leadership in climate talks beyond the Roman Catholic Church, a quality that likely stemmed from its interfaith origins. Laudato Si does more than foster interfaith connection, speaking intently on the shared human condition. And still, it maintains its Catholic nature.
When Pope Francis went to visit Patriarch Bartholomew in 2013, the 'Green Patriarch' expounded his greatest concern over environmental degradation, urging Pope Francis to use his leadership to make a change. And so he did.
Over the years, the two religious leaders have worked together in an attempt to lead people to climate action by enacting the deeply personal faith of all humans. And herein lies the profound nuance. While the document remains entirely Roman Catholic, is does so in a universal sense, a subtle and yet powerful return to the origins of the word 'Catholic'. It is a universal plea for humans to unite under the banner of climate action – without disregarding their respective faith(s) – rather, harnessing those traditions as a catalyst for change.
Read more about the relationship between Greek and Roman Catholic climate collaboration, 30 years in the making.
George P. Nassos | The Pappas Post
There are many problems we are seeing in this world today. We have the ISIS situation in the Middle East. We have refugees traveling to various western countries. There is a financial crisis in Greece. And we have too many racial shootings in the U.S., particularly in some major cities. While these and many other problems are severe, they only affect a small number of people compared to the number of people on this earth. There is one problem, however, that affects or will affect every living creature on this earth – the deteriorating environment. We must do something about it very soon.
A major step forward was when on June 16, 2015, Pope Francis announced Laudato Si, his encyclical on protecting the environment. This follows other major Roman Catholic encyclicals such as when Pope John XXIII proposed peace over 50 years ago; Pope Paul VI in 1971 referred to some ecological concerns; Pope John Paul II called for ecological conversion; and Pope Benedict XVI, the predecessor to Francis, wrote about deterioration, in 2009, being related to culture. These were all excellent encyclicals but Pope Francis’ is most impressive by the depth and thoroughness with which the ecological problem is described.
Laudato Si starts out with what is happening to our common home. It then covers the gospel of creation and is followed with what humans have being doing to affect this creation negatively. The remaining three chapters are devoted to what we must do to resolve this problem by implementing sustainability, more dialogue among the various religions, and instituting ecological education. This is truly an outstanding document that, hopefully, will make an impact on not only the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics in the world, but also on all the other religions.