Chapter 8: Case Study: Laudato Si

Chapter 8 Discussion Questions

Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical: Laudato Si’


Reflection Questions:

    • “Integral ecology” is a major theme of the encyclical, and is the focus of Chapter Four. Describe what Francis means by integral ecology and why it is so important to the message of Laudato Si’.
    • What specific elements of Laudato Si’ resonate with things we’ve discussed already in ENR 3470, or that have already been covered in this book?

Discussion Questions:

    1. Do you think papal encyclical letters usually get such a broad response? Why do you think this encyclical has received the response it has?
    2. What does Pope Francis mean by “rapidification”? (¶ 18)
    3. What does it mean to you to “become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it”? (¶ 19)
    4. Why does Pope Francis say that humans need to hear “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”? (¶ 49)
    5. What does the encyclical have to say about population control, which tends to be a delicate subject for Catholic environmentalists? (see ¶ 50)
    6. Why does Francis warn against a “false or superficial ecology”? (¶ 59)
    7. Do you think the “serene attentiveness” that Francis describes in ¶ 226 is similar to the path of meditation that Loy describes in Healing Ecology? Why or why not?
    8. How do you think the “intimate connection between God and all beings” described in ¶ 234 and in ¶ 240 compares to a Buddhist concept of the interconnection of all things?
    9. What do you think of the vision in ¶ 243 of eternal life?

Study Questions:

    1. What is Pope Francis’s critique of multinational corporations in ¶ 51, and how does this relate to the Allen Wood chapter we read on “relativism”? (note also ¶ 122)
    2. What does Pope Francis mean by “differentiated responsibilities” regarding climate change? (¶52)
    3. Based on chapters two and three (other sections, like ¶‘s 155 and 159-162, and sections III-IX of Ch. 6, may also help), what would you say are the essential elements of the theological anthropology presented in Laudato Si’?
    4. What is the “technocratic paradigm” that Francis discusses in section II of Chapter Three?
    5. Francis says in ¶ 118 that there can be no renewal of our relationship to nature without a renewal of humanity itself, which requires an adequate anthropology in addition to ecology. He then says that we needn’t replace our misguided anthropocentrism with “biocentrism”: how does he critique biocentrism, and how does this link to Pollan’s notion of a Gardener’s Ethic?
    6. How do Francis’ comments about religion in dialogue with science (¶ 199) connect with readings from Baer and Barbour?
    7. When Francis says that ecological conversion is also a community conversion (¶ 219), how might you relate Francis’ points in the following paragraphs to Loy’s collective solution to the human problem in Healing Ecology?
    8. What is the importance of the Eucharist as described in ¶ 236?


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Religion and Environmental Values in America by Gregory E Hitzhusen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.