An Exhortation for a Call
In the different types of texts that a pope can produce, the exhortation resembles an appeal, sometimes addressed to a limited category of faithful. Pope Francis has written five others so far, accompanying the end of synods (Amazonia, Youth, Families) for example.
A chosen calendar
Published on Saint Francis of Assisi Day, and two months before the opening of COP 28 in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), this committed text invites us not to despair in the face of the contradictions of the current climate negotiations . Supporting those who campaign for a real ecological transition in a country that is a major producer of fossil fuels is therefore a real commitment.
A complement to “Laudato si’”…
Pope Francis had announced several weeks ago that this text complemented and updated calls already made in his encyclical Laudato si’… published in 2015. And in fact, the text of the exhortation which takes stock of current climate issues, invites us to move away from relativist positions, and mobilizes Christians and believers for this colossal challenge.
…and a reaction on the reception of the encyclical
A recent poll in France indicated that nearly two-thirds of Catholics did not know what the encyclical was Laudato si‘, eight years after its publication. Does this text seek to restore the taste for reading? Shorter, more energetic and summarizing the essence of the encyclical, the exhortation does not leave one indifferent and is read more easily and quickly. Perhaps Pope Francis also hopes to reach economic and political decision-makers, notably those who will participate in COP 28, with a more accessible summary of Laudato si’?
The key ideas of “Laudate Deum”
The climate skepticism of Christians can no longer be appropriate, according to Pope Francis, in the face of the phenomena of climate disruption which are increasing over the years. Nor the fascination with the power of certain scientific or economic ideologies which further widen social inequalities. Without using his expression of integral ecology, Pope Francis once again recalls that the challenge is first and foremost social. That of protecting the most exposed populations and the natural ecosystems that welcome them with them.
A cry to awaken consciences
It is not a great theological or pastoral text. Faced with the urgency of the acceleration of climate change, the exhortation is above all a cry which aims to awaken consciences and mobilize good will, both individual and state. We find many of the ideas already stated in the encyclical. An insistence which should also make it possible to move the lines both in our way of situating ourselves in this fragile world and in committing ourselves to “globalization from below”. This pope likes the idea of working on vital processes that speak to the social collective to have an impact on decision-making places. This is what the social doctrine of the Church affirms when it speaks of the necessary subsidiarity in systems.
The pope repeatedly cites scientific information drawn from the work of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which is the world reference today for understanding ongoing climate phenomena. He also cites some lesser-known authors, such as a Swedish ecological historian or an American author. No doubt not without humor, he pays homage to a text by North American bishops on the climate, while among the most conservative of them, many openly claim to be climate skeptics and close to a liberal economy supporting fossil fuels.