Caring for creation
September 20, 2023
Pope Francis will release a follow-up document on the environment on Oct. 4, providing an update to his 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’,” “On Care for Our Common Home” – a landmark papal letter that offered a rallying cry for global action in the fight against climate change. Francis said the new document is an effort to help “put an end to the senseless war against our common home” and comes after a summer of record-breaking rising temperatures, wildfires and storms.
The pope’s remarks came during his general audience at the Vatican on Aug. 30. He first made mention of such a document during an Aug. 21 meeting with European lawyers, saying only that he was writing a “second part to ‘Laudato Si’’ to update it on current problems.” Few details have emerged about its content, the Vatican only stating that it will address “the most recent extreme weather events and catastrophes affecting people across the five continents.”
The pope’s 2015 encyclical was timed to be released ahead of the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, where nearly 200 nations entered into a historic agreement to reduce carbon emissions. In his remarks to the lawyers, he said “that future generations are entitled to receive from our hands a beautiful and habitable world and that this entails grave responsibilities toward the natural world that we have received from the hands of God.”
The Oct. 4 release date of the new exhortation is the feast day of the pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi – the 12th century saint known for his concern for the poor and the environment. It is also the date of the final day of what is known as the “Season of Creation,” a month-long ecumenical initiative aimed at inspiring greater prayer and environmental action among Christians.
It doesn’t make sense for faith groups to approach climate action only from their own respective traditions. As Pope Francis said in “Laudato Si’:” “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots, concern and affect us all. We require a new and universal solidarity.” The vital work of care for creation must be done together.
Fr. Paul Magnano