Dear Friends of ACTI,
On June 18 Pope Francis released his second Encyclical, Laudato Si’, or “Praise be to you,” a phrase that recalls St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun.” The sweeping 246-paragraph document addresses a range of issues related to contemporary environmental crises, with a special emphasis on anthropogenic climate change. In it, the Pope draws on a wide range of sources—including Scripture, teachings and encyclicals of previous popes, documents from various Bishops’ Conferences, philosophers, theologians, and more—in the course of stating unequivocally that climate change is a moral issue for the Church and the people of the world. Recognizing the overwhelming scientific consensus regarding the basic causes of climate change, Pope Francis draws our attention to the fact that this physical reality is rooted in social, economic, and political causes that result in effects with profound moral consequences.
Laudato Si’ continues and extends Church concern for the poor and vulnerable, recognizing that climate change strikes the poor people of the developing world first and hardest (para. 25), and reminding us that a great deal of environmental harm is caused by the wealthy and suffered by the poor, resulting in an “ecological debt” (para. 51) that must be addressed. However, in addition to addressing the moral aspects of climate change related to human suffering, Pope Francis calls us to a wider “culture of care” (para. 231) in which we reject a “tyrannical” anthropocentrism that has “no concern for other creatures” which have a “value of their own in God’s eyes” (para. 68-69). Bringing about such a culture will require a “profound interior conversion” (para. 217).
The Academy for Catholic Thought and Imagination welcomes Laudato Si’, which will serve as a focal point for discussion during the coming academic year, in which the Academy plans to host several events related to its core concerns. We look forward to engaging the faculty, students, and wider LMU community in reflection on and discussion of this important document. Announcements will be forthcoming regarding events related to Laudato Si’, as well as other Academy activities. We hope you will join us in the coming year.
Charles S. Casassa Chair and Professor of Philosophy
Director, Academy for Catholic Thought and Imagination