By Sister Ana María Siufi
Eight years after the Laudato Si, Pope Francis released the Laudate Deum exhortation, which also is directed toward every person of goodwill as it describes the problems, analyzes their causes and demands immediate action to address the climate crisis. Francis wants to bring the encyclical up to date, creating a sense of urgency about this dramatic global social problem, which is caused by structural sin.
He sounds the alarm focusing on the sad experience of communities around the world, as well as the science that has been documenting the effects of climate change provoked by the reckless development of powerful countries. Once again, he criticizes the omnipresent technocracy, reproaches the lack of ethics among economies that privilege the few, and laments the failure to comply with agreements signed at U.N. conferences. Ahead of COP 28 in November, Pope Francis asks for action on the urgent need for an energy transition and also to repair the damage and losses in vulnerable zones.
He clearly denounces the fact that “our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.” (Paragraph 2) And he stresses that we must not be satisfied with merely technical, band-aid solutions. He questions the powers that brought us to this situation; those that benefit from it and do very little to resolve it, asking: “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power, only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” (Paragraph 60)
He suggests that to confront weak international policies, we need stronger multilateralism and organizations with real global authority in order to control the countries responsible for the planet’s deterioration, dedicate the necessary resources, and put into practice the signed agreements.
This new form of multilateralism should harness the power of civil society, he says, because the struggle to defend human, social and environmental rights must come from the people, working with activist groups, democratizing the spaces for dialogue.
Finally, he reminds us of the spiritual motivations that should encourage believers to reconcile ourselves with nature, humbly and lovingly, moving us toward a personal conversion and cultural revolution, in order to transform this technocratic market system. We must become aware that in a universal family, everything is interconnected, and we are not gods.
This document is a necessary warning for the uninformed, the indifferent or the climate deniers. It is especially for the United States of America which Pope Francis names as one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Some of us hoped he would also explicitly call out the entire range of extractive activities that are the root cause of climate change and count women and children as its principal victims.
We pray that the cries of those who are already suffering from global warming, the clamor of the species facing extinction, the warnings from scientists and the voice of Pope Francis are heard so that we may halt the disaster that began decades ago.