Chapter 8: Case Study: Laudato Si

Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, is both common and uncommon. [1] It is common because religious communities and denominations have been creating official environmental statements for decades – denominational social policy statements that outline theological, environmental, and moral tenets that call people of faith to action in response to environmental issues. [2] The encyclical is uncommon, however, in the amount of attention and arguably impact that this statement has had on religious environmental dialogue and action. My own estimate is that this encyclical is the most important development in the field of religion and ecology in decades and may stand as the most important for a decade or more to come. [3]


Staff from the Catholic Diocese of Columbus gathered at St. Therese Retreat Center. “We discussed Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ and recommitted ourselves to make the world better than we found it.” Photo credit: Jerry Freewalt

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Laudato Si’

  1. This chapter will be kept intentionally short, to encourage readers to prioritize reading the encyclical itself! Full text is available online from the Vatican here: 
  2. Mark Ellingsen’s book The Cutting Edge documents hundreds of such statements prior to the early 1990s; the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology maintains an online list of statements here.
  3. See the next section for further description of papal encyclicals.


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Religion and Environmental Values in America Copyright © 2019 by Gregory E Hitzhusen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.