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Pope says he’s writing a Part 2 to encyclical on environment

Vatican Gardens Pope

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 08/21/23

The Holy Father says that he will address "present problems" in the extension of his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si'

Pope Francis has announced that he is writing a “second part” to his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’. He spoke of his plan in an address to a delegation of lawyers from Council of Europe member countries at the Vatican on August 21, 2023. Without giving further details on the format of the document, the 86-year-old Pontiff specified that it was an update taking into account “present problems.”

The European lawyers from 25 countries signed the Vienna Appeal on June 11, 2022, pledging their support for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

In his address, the Pope particularly praised their “willingness to work for the development of a normative framework aimed at protecting the environment.”

Stressing the “grave responsibilities” of humanity, called upon to leave “a beautiful and habitable world” to the younger generations, the Pope left his text to confide: “I am currently writing a second part to Laudato Si’ in order to address present problems.”

Perhaps an apostolic letter?

The Argentine Pontiff gave no further details on this sequel to one of the flagship texts of his pontificate. According to a Vatican source contacted by I.MEDIA, it is likely a “letter updating Laudato si’ in the wake of recent climate crises.”

The format could be that of an “apostolic letter referring to Laudato si’,” the source suggested.

As extreme weather events have been recorded in various parts of the world this summer, Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his concern during Sunday Angelus messages. On July 23, for example, he urged world leaders to act to “limit polluting emissions.”

The encyclical Laudato si’, on safeguarding the common home that God has created for humanity, was written in the context of the United Nations conferences on climate change.

Pope Francis has recounted the genesis of this text on various occasions, explaining what he discussed with Ségolène Royal, then French Minister for Ecological Transition, during her visit to Strasbourg in 2014.

He recounted in June:

She told me that she had heard that I was writing something on the environment. I replied, yes I was talking to a group of scientists and also a group of theologians. She then said: “Please publish it before the Paris Conference.” So that was what happened …

Rarely has an encyclical had such an echo, even in circles far removed from Catholicism, as the concern about global warming goes well beyond confessional bounds. At the time of its publication, dozens of heads of state welcomed the position taken by the head of the Catholic Church.

While Laudato si’ was not the first encyclical to “address the problem,” it was the first “to take ecology as its sole subject,” points out Dominican Thomas Michelet, in the book Les papes et l’écologie (Artège, 2016).

Francis himself does not classify it as a “green” encyclical, saying that in fact it falls in the great tradition of the Church’s “social encyclicals.” In it, the Pontiff makes above all a call to personal conversion, noting how the environmental crisis is inseparable from a human crisis.

Defending professional secrecy

In his address to the lawyers of the Old Continent, the Pope also defended the “fundamental principle of legal professional privilege,” which his hosts regretted is being violated in several member states.

“I understand and share this concern,” the Pontiff told them. “In the Church, we have the secret of confession,” he slipped in, once again leaving his text.

Dear lawyers, I appreciated the concern expressed in your Declaration for the necessary protection of your profession and for the fundamental principle of legal professional privilege, violations of which you have criticized in some member States. I understand and share this concern, and I encourage you in your efforts. It is essential that our societies preserve forms of confidential communication in which individuals can express themselves and lay down their burdens. This is very important. In the Church, we have the secret of Confession; you also have this forum, where a person is able to speak the truth to his or her lawyer so that the lawyer might help.

The Pope said,

It is essential that our societies preserve forms of confidential communication in which individuals can express themselves and lay down their burdens.

Various countries, including the UK, Portugal, and Australia, have called into question the secrecy of confession in cases of child sexual abuse.

In his speech, the Pope also improvised a few words in French, suggesting that lawyers increase the number of female members of their group.

He also deplored society’s

tendency to claim more and more individual rights, without taking into account the fact that every human being is part of a social context in which his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself.

He also lamented that

a misguided notion of human nature and of the human person is becoming increasingly influential: a notion that weakens their protection and gradually opens the door to grave abuses under the semblance of good.

EnvironmentPope Francis
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