Mon 8 June 2015
Environmental Encyclical: Green Christian hopes for a ‘Game Changer’ from Pope Francis.
Green Christian is optimistic that Pope Francis will release a ‘game-changing’ encyclical on 18 June, and is offering reactions and analysis. The charity believes that the teaching document, reported to be entitled Laudato sii, the opening words of St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures, could revitalise ‘green’ theology and practice across the denominations, and prompt a fundamental rethink of catholic social teaching.
The Vatican has announced that the Pope’s new encyclical will be published on Thursday 18 June. It has long been known that the landmark teaching document will focus on the environment. According to the Chair of Green Christian, Paul Bodenham, “There are three crucial tests to establish how effectively it will address the environmental crisis”. He says:
“First, will it tackle the economic forces which are driving it, particularly our society’s obsession with ‘growth’? The signs are good: the Pope’s letter in 2013, Evangelii gaudium, showed that he is quite happy to take on the current system.
“Second, will it demand practical policies from world leaders? The best eco-theology changes the way we want to live, and encourages political leadership. The publication is shrewdly timed for that, just as delegates are preparing for the Paris climate summit. We shall see in the coming weeks if our national Bishops’ Conferences take the cue he is giving them.
“Thirdly, will the encyclical make Catholic Social Teaching fit for the 21st century? That has developed in an ecological vacuum – it’s good on its own terms, but it just doesn’t recognise that without a flourishing planet there’s no flourishing for society. St Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures is all about those creatures being our brothers and sisters, as well as human beings, so in the Pope’s chosen title we have a tantalising glimpse of a breakthrough in Catholic Social Teaching. If he succeeds in initiating an ecological reform of Catholic Social Teaching, we are in for an exciting ride.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. Green Christian is a registered trading name of Christian Ecology Link (CEL): http://www.greenchristian.org.uk
2. Paul Bodenham is Chair of Green Christian and a Franciscan tertiary. He can be contacted on 01949 861516 for reaction, comment and analysis, and is willing to consider requests for articles. He will be speaking at the National Justice and Peace Network on 19 September on Francisconomics: The Saint, the Pope, and the economy of enough and on 7 November will introduce a major conference The economics of hope with Molly Scott-Cato MEP and Dr Jonathan Rowson RSA.
3. Date of publication of the encyclical: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-new-encyclical-to-be-published-on-18
4. Expected title of the encyclical: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/popes-environmental-encyclical-to-be-titled-laudato-sii-praised-be-72899/
5. Green Christian works with churches and individuals in search of sustainable living, by running conferences, workshops and retreats. It sponsors the LOAF campaign (eco-friendly food production), ecocell groups (carbon footprint reduction) and the Joy in Enough initiative, and publishes magazines, pamphlets and leaflets giving information about best environmental practice.