Laudato Si One Year Later
One year ago, on June 18, Pope Francis addressed the Catholic Church—and the whole world—in his encyclical, “Laudato Si.” In it, he called for nothing short of an “ecological conversion.”
- On December 12, 2015, 196 nations agreed to a U.N. Paris climate agreement.
- On Earth Day—April 22, 2016—the Paris Accord was officially signed by 175 countries.
- The United States gave $500 million to the Green Climate Fund on March 7, 2016. It was the United States’ first contribution and first step toward meeting its commitment to donate $3 billion to the fund over 4 years, and it demonstrates ongoing U.S. leadership on this issue.
- More than 100 Catholic University presidents signed a declaration of commitment to take leadership roles in supporting education about climate issues.
- A Yale University study showed a marked increase in concern about climate change among both Catholic and general populations in the United States.
- Led in many cases by Catholics, more members of Congress have taken action on climate change, including introducing resolutions, forming a bipartisan caucus to look for solutions to climate change, and seeking support for the Green Climate Fund.
Among the reasons for the encyclical’s positive effects:
- The pope overtly linked climate change to poverty and injustice.
- He made the environment an official concern of a 1.1 billion-member global Church.
- He reminded us of our moral responsibility to care for God’s gift of nature, and our obligation to future generations.
- His words encouraged and invigorated Catholics who have long been concerned with the environment, as well as those who are new to the issue.
- Catholic social teaching has long encouraged people to “care for creation,” but encyclicals in particular are, as Father James Martin says, “A type of teaching that enjoys the highest level of authority in the Church, second only to the Gospels and Church councils like Vatican II.”
- Catholic groups across the country—including CRS—have taken a leadership role in promoting understanding and action around climate change.
“Laudato Si” has been a key step in affecting wide-ranging cultural and economic practices, and its influence may persist over time. The pope urges everyone, not just world leaders, to recognize and act on this global crisis. And that’s where you come in.
Your voice is a gift. You can use it to further affect the U.S. Congress by echoing Pope Francis’ call to action. Make your voice a blessing to others by urging your representatives to support climate change measures.