Pope Francis – spiritual leader to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics – issued an encyclical called Laudato Si’: On Care of our Common Home. Although rooted in the long and deep tradition of Catholic social teaching, this encyclical is addressed not only to Catholics, but to all people of the world. In blunt terms, it draws attention to the nature of the grave ecological crisis that humanity has created, and it issues a moral clarion call for urgent action to protect the earth and its inhabitants from ruin.
Never before has an encyclical been so anticipated, and no encyclical has ever captured the imagination of the world like this one. Part of the reason for this lies in its timing—issued in the months leading up to adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the last-ditch climate negotiations in Paris. In many ways, Laudato Si’ can be read as a moral charter for sustainable development. It provides a firm ethical foundation for actions that need to be taken urgently at all levels—global, national, local, and personal too. This is what makes it so important.
This short course provides an overview of the main themes and messages of Laudato Si’. It does not presume any prior familiarity with either Catholic teaching or the sustainable development agenda. It guides the listener through the basic structure of the encyclical—diagnosis of the ecological crisis, overview of its theological and philosophical underpinnings, evaluation of the human behavior at its root, the need for institutional solutions, and the call for personal conversion. It is hoped that this course can help disseminate the important message of Laudato Si’ to the world, and so help with the implementation of the all-important sustainable development agenda.
Chapter I: Pope Francis & the Encyclical
Presented by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
Chapter II: On Care for Our Common Home
Presented by Professor Jeffrey Sachs
Chapter III: Theology, Philosophy & the Encyclical