Environmentalist groups lauded Pope Francis’s much-awaited, historic encyclical letter on the ecology, entititled “Laudato Si” (Praised be), officially released by the Vatican last Thursday.
“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change,” Pope Francis said in his encyclical letter.
The six-chapter Laudato Si, which is now added to the social teachings of the Catholic church, said the climate crisis is rooted in human activity, and that those most affected, the world’s poorest, contribute the least to the destruction.
The letter also said that “those who hold most of the resources and economic or political power” have been slow to take action. The Pope appealed for environmental education and world dialogue “ín the service of life.”
“Pope Francis asserts the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, amidst a systematic drive by capitalist countries to blur the difference between the obligations of rich and poor countries,” said Jose Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
The encyclical letter was in tribute to St. Francis of Assisi, whose prayer said, “Praised be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth.”
Dulce said the Papal letter also adds to calls for climate justice — “the growing clamor from vulnerable countries to demand reparation from developed nations and their multinational corporations for the loss and damages the vulnerable countries incur amidst the climate crisis.”
Call for shift
“Pope Francis throws the weight of Laudato Si behind calls for a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, amidst pressure from giant corporations and capitalist countries to arbitrarily transfer their obligations for emissions cuts to poor countries,” Dulce said.
“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay,” Pope Francis said in the letter’s chapter 5.
“Politics and business have been slow to react in a way commensurate with the urgency of the challenges facing our world,” the encyclical said.
The papal letter called the post-industrial period — which saw the rise in global carbon emission – as “one of the most irresponsible in history.”
“Nonetheless, there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities,” it added.
Dulce hoped that the papal encyclical will help advance the cry of the world environmental movement “for a world economic and social system that prioritizes the people and the planet over profit.”
Dulce added that Pope Francis’ appeal will help lead to “a climate agreement that will legally bind capitalist countries and their corporations to drastically reduce their emissions.”
The international group Greenpeace called the encyclical letter “the valuable intervention of Pope Francis in humanity’s common struggle to prevent catastrophic climate change.”
Kumi Naidoo, international executive director at Greenpeace, said the encyclical letter made “a crystal-clear call on responsible investors, CEOs and political leaders to step up the pace of the clean energy revolution.”
“As the encyclical states, the environment is a public good, the heritage of all humanity and the responsibility of us all. Greenpeace has always taken that view. That’s why, with the support of millions of people, we aim to stop Shell drilling for oil in the melting Arctic,” Naidoo said in a statement.
Naidoo added the letter “is a welcome rebuke to climate change deniers and the interests that seek to thwart progress.”