Laudate Deum - Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis

Pope Francis recently published an Apostolic Exhortation building on his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si'.

In Laudate Deum he writes that we are not reacting enough, that we’re close to breaking point, writes Vatican News.

He criticises climate change deniers, saying that the human origin of global warming is now beyond doubt. And he describes how care for our common home flows from the Christian faith.

Signs of climate change increasingly evident

The first chapter is dedicated to the global climate crisis.

“Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over or relativize the issue, the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident,” says the Pope.

He goes on to observe that “in recent years we have witnessed extreme weather phenomena, frequent periods of unusual heat, drought and other cries of protest on the part of the earth”, a “silent disease that affects everyone.”

Moreover, Pope Francis says, “it is verifiable that specific climate changes provoked by humanity are notably heightening the probability of extreme phenomena that are increasingly frequent and intense.”

Now, the Holy Father explains, if global temperature increases by more than two degrees, “the icecaps of Greenland and a large part of Antarctica will melt completely, with immensely grave consequences for everyone” (5).

Speaking of those who play down climate change, he responds: “what we are presently experiencing is an unusual acceleration of warming, at such a speed that it will take only one generation – not centuries or millennia – in order to verify it.”

“Probably in a few years many populations will have to move their homes because of these facts” (6).

Extreme colds, too, are “alternative expressions of the same cause” (7).

Not the fault of the poor

“In an attempt to simplify reality,” Pope Francis writes, “there are those who would place responsibility on the poor, since they have many children, and even attempt to resolve the problem by mutilating women in less developed countries.”

“As usual, it would seem that everything is the fault of the poor.  Yet the reality is that a low, richer percentage of the planet contaminates more than the poorest 50% of the total world population, and that per capita emissions of the richer countries are much greater than those of the poorer ones.”

“How can we forget that Africa, home to more than half of the world’s poorest people, is responsible for a minimal portion of historic emissions?” (9).

The Pope also challenges of those who say efforts to mitigate climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels “will lead to a reduction in the number of jobs.”

What is happening, in fact, is that “millions of people are losing their jobs due to different effects of climate change: rising sea levels, droughts and other phenomena affecting the planet have left many people adrift.”

At the same time, “the transition to renewable forms of energy, properly managed” is capable of “generating countless jobs in different sectors. This demands that politicians and business leaders should even now be concerning themselves with it” (10).

Indubitable human origins

It is no longer possible to doubt the human – ‘anthropic’ – origin of climate change,” the Pope says.

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere … was stable until the nineteenth century … In the past fifty years, this increase has accelerated significantly” (11).

What is being asked of us is nothing other than a certain responsibility for the legacy we will leave behind, once we pass from this world

At the same time, global temperature “has risen at an unprecedented speed, greater than any time over the past two thousand years.  In this period, the trend was a warming of 0.15° C per decade, double that of the last 150 years …  At this rate, it is possible that in just ten years we will reach the recommended maximum global ceiling of 1.5° C” (12).

This has resulted in acidification of the seas and the melting of glaciers.

“It is not possible to conceal” the correlation between these events and the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, the Holy Father bitterly observes, “the climate crisis is not exactly a matter that interests the great economic powers, whose concern is with the greatest profit possible at minimal cost and in the shortest amount of time” (13).

Barely in time to avoid more terrible damage

I feel obliged,” continues Pope Francis, “to make these clarifications, which may appear obvious, because of certain dismissive and scarcely reasonable opinions that I encounter, even within the Catholic Church.”

Yet, “we can no longer doubt that the reason for the unusual rapidity of these dangerous changes is a fact that cannot be concealed: the enormous novelties that have to do with unchecked human intervention on nature in the past two centuries” (14).

Unfortunately, some effects of this climate crisis are already irreversible, for at least several hundred years, and “the melting of the poles will not be able to be reversed for hundreds of years” (16).

We are, then, barely in time to avoid even more terrible damage. The Pope writes that “certain apocalyptic diagnoses may well appear scarcely reasonable or insufficiently grounded”, but “we cannot state with certainty” what is going to happen. (17).

Therefore, “a broader perspective is urgently needed …  What is being asked of us is nothing other than a certain responsibility for the legacy we will leave behind, once we pass from this world” (18).

Recalling the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pope Francis repeats that “Everything is connected and no one is saved alone” (19).

The technocratic paradigm: the idea of a human being without limits

In the second chapter, the Pope speaks of the technocratic paradigm which consists in thinking that “reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such” (20) and “monstrously feeds upon itself” (21), taking its inspiration from the idea of a human being without limitations.

“Never has humanity had such power over itself,” the Holy Father continues, “yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely, particularly when we consider how it is currently being used … It is extremely risky for a small part of humanity to have it” (23).

Unfortunately – as demonstrated, too, by the atomic bomb – “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience” (24).

The Pope reaffirms that “the world that surrounds us is not an object of exploitation, unbridled use and unlimited ambition” (25). He reminds us that we, too, are part of nature, and that this “excludes the idea that the human being is extraneous, a foreign element capable only of harming the environment.  Human beings must be recognized as a part of nature” (26); “human groupings have often ‘created’ an environment” (27).

The ethical decadence of power: marketing and fake news

We have made “impressive and awesome technological advances, and we have not realized that at the same time we have turned into highly dangerous beings, capable of threatening the lives of many beings and our own survival” (28).

“The ethical decadence of real power is disguised thanks to marketing and false information, useful tools in the hands of those with greater resources to employ them to shape public opinion.”

Through these mechanisms, people in areas where polluting projects are to be implemented are deceived, convinced that economic and employment opportunities will be generated, but “they are not clearly told that the project will result in … a desolate and less habitable landscape” (29) and a clear decline in quality of life.

“The mentality of maximum gain at minimal cost, disguised in terms of reasonableness, progress and illusory promises, makes impossible any sincere concern for our common home and any real preoccupation about assisting the poor and the needy discarded by our society … astounded and excited by the promises of any number of false prophets, the poor themselves at times fall prey to the illusion of a world that is not being built for them” (31).

There exists, then, “rule by those born with greater possibilities and advantages” (32). Pope Francis invites these individuals to ask themselves, “with an eye to the children who will pay for the harm done by their actions” (33), what the meaning of their life is.

Weak international politics

In the next chapter of the Exhortation, the pope addresses the weakness of international politics, insisting on the need to foster “multilateral agreements between States” (34).

He explains that “when we talk about the possibility of some form of world authority regulated by law, we need not necessarily think of a personal authority” but of “more effective world organizations, equipped with the power to provide for the global common good, the elimination of hunger and poverty and the sure defence of fundamental human rights”.

These, he says, “must be endowed with real authority, in such a way as to provide for the attainment of certain essential goals” (35).

Pope Francis deplores that “global crises are being squandered when they could be the occasions to bring about beneficial changes. This is what happened in the 2007-2008 financial crisis and again in the Covid-19 crisis”, which led to “greater individualism, less integration and increased freedom for the truly powerful, who always find a way to escape unscathed” (36).

“More than saving the old multilateralism, it appears that the current challenge is to reconfigure and recreate it, taking into account the new world situation” (37),  recognising that many civil society aggregations and organizations help compensate for the weaknesses of the international community. The Pope cites the Ottawa process on landmines, which, he says, shows how civil society creates efficient dynamics that the UN does not achieve.

Useless institutions that preserve the strongest

What Pope Francis is proposing is a “multilateralism ‘from below’ and not simply one determined by the elites of power …  It is to be hoped that this will happen with respect to the climate crisis.  For this reason, I reiterate that “unless citizens control political power – national, regional and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment” (38).

After reaffirming the primacy of the human person, Pope Francis explains – speaking of the defense of human dignity in all circumstances – that “It is not a matter of replacing politics, but of recognizing that the emerging forces are becoming increasingly relevant”.

“The very fact,” he says, “that answers to problems can come from any country, however little, ends up presenting multilateralism as an inevitable process” (40).

Therefore, “a different framework for effective cooperation is required. It is not enough to think only of balances of power but also of the need to provide a response to new problems and to react with global mechanisms”; it is a matter of “establishing global and effective rules” (42).

“All this presupposes the development of a new procedure for decision-making”; what is required are “spaces for conversation, consultation, arbitration, conflict resolution and supervision, and, in the end, a sort of increased “democratization” in the global context, so that the various situations can be expressed and included.  It is no longer helpful for us to support institutions in order to preserve the rights of the more powerful without caring for those of all” (43).

Climate conferences

In the following chapter, Francis describes the various climate conferences held to date.

He recalls the one in Paris, the agreement resulting from which came into effect in November 2016. Although “a binding agreement, not all its dispositions are obligations in the strict sense, and some of them leave ample room for discretion” (47). Moreover, there are no sanctions for failure to meet obligations, and there is a lack of effective tools to enforce the agreement, as well as no real sanctions, and no effective tools to ensure compliance.

Additionally, “work is still under way to consolidate concrete procedures for monitoring and to facilitate general criteria for comparing the objectives of the different countries” (48).

The Pope mentions his disappointment with the Madrid COP and recalls that the Glasgow COP revived the Paris goals, with many “recommendations”, but “proposals tending to ensure a rapid and effective transition to alternative and less polluting forms of energy made no progress” (49).

COP27, held in Egypt in 2022, was “one more example of the difficulty of negotiations”, and even though it “marked a step forward in consolidating a system for financing ‘loss and damage’ in countries most affected by climate disasters”, this remained “imprecise” (51) on many points.

International negotiations, the Pope concludes, “cannot make significant progress due to positions taken by countries which place their national interests above the global common good.  Those who will have to suffer the consequences of what we are trying to hide will not forget this failure of conscience and responsibility” (52).

What to expect from the Dubai COP?

Looking ahead to COP, Pope Francis writes that “to say that there is nothing to hope for would be suicidal, for it would mean exposing all humanity, especially the poorest, to the worst impacts of climate change” (53).

We must, says the Pope, “keep hoping that COP28 will allow for a decisive acceleration of energy transition, with effective commitments subject to ongoing monitoring.  This Conference can represent a change of direction” (54).

The Holy Father observes that “the necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels, is not progressing at the necessary speed.  Consequently, whatever is being done risks being seen only as a ploy to distract attention” (55).

We cannot search merely for a technological solution to our problems: “we risk remaining trapped in the mindset of pasting and papering over cracks, while beneath the surface there is a continuing deterioration to which we continue to contribute” (57).

No more ridiculing of environmental questions

Pope Francis asks us to put an end to “the irresponsible derision that would present this issue as something purely ecological, “green”, romantic, frequently subject to ridicule by economic interests.”

“Let us finally admit that it is a human and social problem on any number of levels.  For this reason, it calls for involvement on the part of all.”

On the subject of protests by groups “negatively portrayed as radicalized”, Pope Francis affirms that “in reality they are filling a space left empty by society as a whole, which ought to exercise a healthy “pressure”, since every family ought to realize that the future of their children is at stake” (58).

“May those taking part in the Conference be strategists capable of considering the common good and the future of their children, more than the short-term interests of certain countries or businesses.  In this way, may they demonstrate the nobility of politics and not its shame.  To the powerful, I can only repeat this question: “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power, only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” (60).

A commitment that flows from the Christian faith

Finally, the Pope reminds his readers that the motivations for this commitment flow from the Christian faith, encouraging “my brothers and sisters of other religions to do the same” (61).

“The Judaeo-Christian vision of the cosmos defends the unique and central value of the human being amid the marvellous concert of all God’s creatures,” but “as part of the universe, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect” (67).

“This is not a product of our own will; its origin lies elsewhere, in the depths of our being, since God has joined us so closely to the world around us” (68).

What is important, Pope Francis writes, is to remember that “there are no lasting changes without cultural changes, without a maturing of lifestyles and convictions within societies, and there are no cultural changes without personal changes” (70).

“Efforts by households to reduce pollution and waste, and to consume with prudence, are creating a new culture.  The mere fact that personal, family and community habits are changing is … helping to bring about large processes of transformation rising from deep within society” (71).

The Holy Father ends his Exhortation with a reminder that “emissions per individual in the United States are about two times greater than those of individuals living in China, and about seven times greater than the average of the poorest countries.”

He goes on to affirm that “a broad change in the irresponsible lifestyle connected with the Western model would have a significant long-term impact. As a result, along with indispensable political decisions, we would be making progress along the way to genuine care for one another” (72).

This article appeared on on 4 October 2023. See also this article.

The Human Face of the Climate Emergency: A Call to Action

During the Season of Creation, and in advance of COP26, we are hosting a mini-colloquium on the human face of the climate emergency.

Our Caritas, Justice & Peace Commission have organised an online Zoom event that takes place from 3-5pm on Sunday 12 September (Zoom)

Titled The Human Face of the Climate Emergency: A Call to Action, the event will focus on:

  • The disruptions in the climate that are driving people to become refugees.
  • Hearing from people for whom this is the present reality.
  • The current refugee situation in Scotland.
  • How we can respond.

It will be led by commission members Agatha Kai Kai and Mike Mineter.

Agatha Kai Kai is a Trustee of the Refugee Survival Trust (RST) whose mission is to minimise destitution among refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland.

She is also a member of the St Columba’s Justice and Peace group and represents the parish in the Newington Churches Together Committee.

Mike Mineter has been active in Justice and Peace groups for years, now mainly focusing on groups seeking ecological justice, working for a just future for all in Palestine/Israel and campaigning for morally responsible investment.

He is a member of the Iona Community and works as the computing expert in a climate research group at the University of Edinburgh.

'The Human Face of the Climate Emergency: A Call to Action', 3-5pm, Sunday 12 September 2021. Register here.

Scottish Bishops' pastoral letter: caring for creation

Scotland’s Bishops have issued a national pastoral letter for Pentecost Sunday (23 May 2021) on the theme of caring for creation.

It coincides with Laudato Si' week (16-25 May), which marks the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on the environment.

The letter draws attention to the Christian message, that “we are all part of one human family and that we share a common home...our earth’s resources must be shared and used for the benefit of all”.

It follows the announcement of a Care of Creation Office set up in preparation for the COP26 conference that takes place in Glasgow in November. The Office’s aim will be to give practical advice and guidance, helping dioceses and parishes assess their carbon footprint and discern how to work towards carbon neutrality.



Laudato Si' week activity

Laudato Si’ Week 2021 continues today at 2pm with an inspiring Webinar featuring priests and religious from across the world. It is titled Sowing Hope for the Planet: Creation Care Prayer Network.

In our Archdiocese, Anne Havard wrote this article on behalf of the Caritas, Justice & Peace Commission's working group on Laudato Si', ahead of Pentecost.

Meanwhile, an ecoCircle formed last year in Edinburgh, inspired by Laudato Si', the encyclical in which Pope Francis calls us to "care for our common home". Join its prayer in the below video.


A Great Toy Giveaway took place at St Francis Xavier's Parish in Falkirk last year thanks to the generosity of parishioners and the local community.

Volunteer Kathy Onoi explained how it fitted in with the Laudato Si' theme. She said: "We identified a need in the parish due to lost jobs and furloughing that left the poorest with little money to afford Christmas for their children.

"All the gifts were donated. There were some new things, but a lot of preloved toys in great condition that would have otherwise been thrown away.

"We contacted the local social work department and other organisations to identify children in need and then opened up the hall to anyone in the area to come and take what they needed. There was very little left and that was taken by a local charity shop."

Meanwhile, Fr Gerry Hand held a Laudato Si' service at Holy Cross Parish in Edinburgh on Thursday night. Watch the service below or on YouTube


Laudato Si' week: a parish takes swift action!

We asked parishes across the Archdiocese to show us what they've been up to as we prepare to celebrate Laudato Si' week, which begins on Sunday 16 May.

The parish community at Ss Ninian & Triduana in Restalrig, Edinburgh, sent us the below video, highlighting their projects, including creating new homes for insects and swifts. Great work!

Laudato Si’ Week 2021, 16-25 May, is the climax of the Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year, and a celebration of the great progress the whole Church has made on its journey to ecological conversion. Find out more at

Laudato Si' week: Wildflowers sown at Holy Cross

In the lead up to Laudato Si Week, the parish of Holy Cross has been seeding small areas of wildflower meadow next to it's parish in the north west of Edinburgh.

They said: "It is a gesture towards addressing the biodiversity and climate change crisis lamented in Laudato Si. In a tiny but symbolic way, this reverses some of the loss of 97-99% of our UK meadows since the 1930s.

"To sow the meadow, donated wildflower seeds were split between over two hundred small packets and given out to parishioners...(they) were invited to sow the wildflower seeds and say a prayer, similar to lighting a candle in church.

"Meadow allows many diverse plants to grow and provides improved habitat for the small wildlife of the parish, including bees, butterflies, moths, frogs and birds.  We are also lucky enough to have a family of badgers (see below image), a fox and at least one very crazy squirrel to enjoy the habitat.

"Looking after the meadow areas should be no more work than the previous grass and, all part of ‘caring for our common home’, where we respect and care for nature, as well as ourselves.

Read more at:

Bishops to set up 'care of creation office' ahead of COP26

Scotland’s Catholic Bishops have announced their intention to set up a 'Care of Creation Office' ahead of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow later this year.

The announcement coincides with a national pastoral letter being distributed to all parishes for Pentecost Sunday (23 May 2021) on the theme of caring for creation.

It also coincides with Laudato Si' week (16-25 May), which marks the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on the environment.

The letter draws attention to the Christian message, that “we are all part of one human family and that we share a common home...our earth’s resources must be shared and used for the benefit of all”.

Bishop William Nolan, the Bishop of Galloway and President of the National Justice & Peace Commission said: "On Pentecost Sunday (23 May 2021) we mark the 5th anniversary of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on care for our common home. It reminds all Catholics of their responsibilities towards one another and the world we live.

"Inspired by the Pope’s letter and in preparation for the COP26 conference taking place in Glasgow in November, the Bishops’ Conference has decided to set-up a Care of Creation Office this year.”

The Office’s aim will be to give practical advice and guidance, helping dioceses and parishes assess their carbon footprint and discern how to work towards carbon neutrality. It will be headed by Fr Gerard Maguiness, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference.

Bishop Nolan added: "God has honoured us by giving humanity the task of being a co-operator in the work of creation we hope our lives enhance and build-up that creation and pray that the meeting of world leaders in Glasgow later this year bear fruit for our planet.”


Holy Mass to launch Season of Creation

Archbishop Cushley will be the principal celebrant at the annual Justice and Peace Mass for the Archdiocese, which takes place on the World Day of Prayer for Creation.

It launches the Season of Creation, which runs from 01 September to 04 October. The theme this year is 'Jubilee for the Earth'. It also happens in this fifth anniversary year of Laudato Si - Pope Francis' important encyclical on caring for the poor and the planet. On the day we further celebrate the Archdiocesan Feast Day of St Giles.

Archbishop Cushley said: "The Holy Father asks us to unite with all Christians in prayer for the Season of Creation, so it's fitting our Archdiocese celebrates its annual Justice & Peace Mass on the World Day of Prayer for Creation. The Judeo-Christian sense of creation is beautiful and profound and I echo the Holy Father's call during the Season of Creation for increased prayer and effort on behalf of our common home.”

At the Mass, celebrated at St Columba's Church in Upper Gray Street, Edinburgh, Archbishop Cushley will be joined by Fr Basil Clark, Fr Kevin Douglas, Fr Tony Lappin and Deacon John Smith.

A letter about this year's season of creation from the Vatican's Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, states: "Pope Francis’ message, which calls us to attend to the 'immense hardship for the most vulnerable among us,' is particularly relevant in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.

"As the world experiences deep uncertainty and suffering in the midst of a global emergency, we are called to recognise that a truly healthy recovery means seeing that 'everything is connected' and repairing the bonds we have broken. We realise that we need to grow more and more in solidarity and take care of one another in fraternity."

Register for the Mass on Eventbrite by clicking here. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there are 50 places available. The Justice and Peace Group of St Columba’s invite you to the Church Hall for refreshments after Mass.

Season of Creation Resources

Visit for more details. Read Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si' here.

Parishioners reflect on Pope's message on environment

Over one hundred parishioners from across the Archdiocese gathered to reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ .

Speaking last Saturday, Dr Sara Parvis reflected on Pope Francis’ letter on caring for our common home, emphasising “the need for prayer, the need for God, the need to connect this to part of a bigger story.”

She said responding to climate change is not optional but is a necessary action which is firmly rooted in our faith, and in the mission given to us by God to care for his creation.

At the event, organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Caritas, Justice and Peace, Dr Parvis added that “the poor are living with the consequences of our greed now.” With this in mind, she spoke of the “blasphemy of destroying the environment and destroying the world” by failing to respond to God’s call to action.

Pope Francis emphasised the need for action in response to the current climate emergency. Rev David Coleman, Environmental Chaplain for Eco-Congregations Scotland, addressed this noting that the response must be “spiritual, practical and global.”

Explaining how congregations across Scotland and further afield are inspired by Pope Francis, the example of the saints and by the message in the Gospels, he argued that “reducing our carbon footprint raises our Gospel footprint!”

Rev Coleman highlighted the ecumenical work of Eco-Congregations Scotland to engage parishes through their three-tier awards scheme. It is hoped that parishes across the Archdiocese will accept this challenge, and seek to take practical steps to address the climate crisis facing us.

Speaking following the event, Father Basil Clark, Vicar Episcopal for Caritas, Justice and Peace, said: “It's been a thoroughly thought-provoking day as we journeyed through Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ considering what changes we might make as a Church community.

“The challenge is real, and we must live up to it. Our Catholic faith teaches us to care for God’s creation, and so we must respond urgently to that call. I would like to thank Sara for leading us in today’s reflection, and David for explaining some of the amazing work being done already.

“In my own parish, we are working towards recognition as an Eco-Congregation. This has been a very worthwhile journey, exploring the ways in which we can take small steps to address climate change in our parish communities, and how we can raise awareness of this important issue among our parishioners to ensure that this important message reaches everyone.”