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Pope Francis dove into a secular subject with his first major encyclical on the theme of environment, “Laudato Si” (“Praise Be to You”), calling countries and peoples to stop ruining the Earth, “our common home.”
The 184-page document, which can be read here, is regarded as Francis’s critique of unrelenting global capitalism, businesses that sacrifice the environment for profits. He urged a change in mindsets, “modes of production,” and “lifestyles” to put an end to the devastating effects of climate change.
Francis put the spotlight on leaders with “weak international political responses” and failed global submits on the environment, challenging them to do away with “special interests” that trump the common good. It is clear that he intends to influence governments preparing for the United Nations climate-change summit in December. This contentious meeting aims to arrive at a global agreement on limiting greenhouse gas emissions by crafting new policies.
In the Philippines, environment activists hail “Laudato Si,” which they say stands up for victims of climate change.
Now part of the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, the encyclical or teaching letter is going to be discussed by bishops and priests around the world, sharing them with their communities.
But the biggest role will be played by the Pope as “Laudato Si” cements his role as a global diplomat. He is scheduled to spread this new gospel in South America in July, and in Cuba and the United States in September, where he will speak about it at the United Nations.
The Pope tries to veer away from issues that divide the Church such as contraception and abortion, as he has said in the past. But he included a criticism of abortion and diminished population control as a solution to poverty.
Still, Church observers say that the pontiff has always held strong views on the environment. In 2014, he surprised many when in a talk at an Italian university, he characterized exploiting the earth as “our sin.” One report described this event as “quietly revolutionary,” because Francis presented issues about the environment as “one of the greatest challenges of our time,” which is not a matter of theology alone. After all, acting on environment issues requires countries and governments to re-shape their politics to favor public good.
Deftly, Francis has blended faith and issues of governance, making the Church a relevant force in the global stage. – Rappler.com