By Daniel Payne/Catholic News Agency
Church leaders, environmental activists, and Catholic groups around the world responded positively this week to Pope Francis’ latest apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum, what the Holy Father billed as a continuance of his earlier landmark writing on climate change and the environment.
The pope released Laudate Deum on Wednesday, having touted it as the “second part” of his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, which urged decisive and proactive measures to tackle the climate change crisis.
Laudate Deum took a more forceful and unapologetic stance on climate change, with the pope describing the matter as “no longer a secondary or ideological question.” The document, meanwhile, was met with praise both by Catholic and environmental leaders upon its publication.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and archbishop of Westminster, said in a statement that the document was the pope’s “heartfelt appeal to all people of goodwill, to communities, business[es], governments, and international bodies that each play a part in facing and responding to the challenges of climate change.”
The pope “asks each of us to contribute by efforts ‘to reduce pollution and waste, to consume with prudence’ and thereby help ‘to create a new culture,’” Nichols said.
Marcene Mitchell, the senior vice president of climate change at the World Wide Fund for Nature, said in a statement that Francis in his exhortation “has once again called on us to protect our common home by fixing our broken relationship with nature.”
“His words are also a critical reminder of the importance of leaders everywhere speaking to the urgency of the climate crisis,” Mitchell said.
Individual bishops also responded positively to the exhortation. Columbus, Ohio, Bishop Earl K. Fernandes “warmly welcom[ed]” the document, the Diocese of Columbus said in a statement, calling the climate crisis “a moral issue” and the pope’s exhortation an invitation to “radical solidarity with those who suffer from the deleterious effects of environmental change and disaster.”
Trenton, New Jersey, Bishop David M. O’Connell said in a reflection that he “pray[ed] that the Holy Father’s vigilant attention to the threats to our ‘common home’ — which fundamentally includes every human life — falls upon fertile ground, converting our hearts and inspiring us all to do whatever we can to make a positive difference.”
Numerous Catholic nonprofit groups were also among those who reacted positively to the new document. Catholic Relief Services, the humanitarian initiative of the USCCB, said in a press release that Laudate Deum is “fundamentally a rallying cry for the crucial policy work needed to change paths.”
“[Francis] invites leaders everywhere to rise above self-interest and imagine a future shaped by the common good,” CRS wrote, calling on leaders to “intertwine the hopeful and borderless message of Laudate Deum into our collective actions.”
Catholic Climate Covenant, meanwhile — a climate-oriented group founded in 2006 — said in a press release that the exhortation “underscores the timely and intrinsic link between our Catholic faith and the moral imperative to protect our common home and all people and creatures today and tomorrow.”
“Driven by faith, facts on the ground, and clear science, Pope Francis’ exhortation urges us to look at what has happened to our planet and acknowledge what we need to do now to fix it,” the group said.