Caritas Australia welcomes Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation ‘Laudate Deum’ on the climate crisis

Caritas Australia has today welcomed Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, “Laudate Deum: To All People of Good Will on the Climate Crisis”.  

This follows the 2015 “Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home”, which responded to the times by highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis and connecting Catholic social teachings to the cry of the earth. 

Released today, Laudate Deum stresses the undeniability of climate change and human activity as its cause, drawing attention to the exploitation of nature for the ends of technology and productivity.  

Account is taken of the weakness of international politics in committing to efficient, obligatory, and readily monitored change. The need for ‘multilateralism from below’ -meaning bringing together people and civil society across the world to push governments to action - is also acknowledged. In turn Pope Francis notes the importance of climate conferences, and successes such as the commitment to a Loss and Damage Fund for climate vulnerable countries, as he looks pointedly ahead at COP28 on November 30th 

Finally, in its last chapter ‘Spiritual Motivations’, Laudate Deum reminds Catholics of their responsibility to care for God’s creation. 

Kirsty Robertson, CEO of Caritas Australia said, “Caritas Australia is delighted to have a leading role in the implementation of the ecological vision of Pope Francis. Internationally we work on ecological restoration programs and helping at risk communities prepare for disaster, as well as research and advocacy on access to climate finance and Loss and Damage, particularly in the Pacific.  

“Within Australia we have a special role in the development of Laudato Si’ Action Plans, with our Catholic Earthcare program serving to extend these teachings to Parishes, schools, organisations, and the community. In light of Laudate Deum, we also call for broader participation in the act of holding those in power to account on delivering measurable, practical progress” Robertson added. 

At COP27 Caritas Oceania and Jubilee Australia Research Centre presented ‘Twin clouds on the horizon: climate change and debt in the Pacific’. It was the first report to look in detail at debt, climate change and their combined impacts on the Pacific region. Caritas Australia will also be attending COP28 later this year.  

Damian Spruce, Associate Director Advocacy at Caritas Australia added, we will build on our research and our work with the Holy See at COP meetings with a flagship Caritas confederation report on Non-Economic Loss and Damage this year. This will set out the cultural, spiritual, and other impacts of climate-induced loss and damage beyond the financial, inspired by the words of Pope Francis”.  

Michael McGirr, Mission Facilitator at Caritas Australia concluded, “Pope Francis’ spirituality keeps growing deeper and richer. This letter goes to the core of what it means to be a human being and a child of God. The Pope says, ‘let us stop thinking, then, of human beings as autonomous, omnipotent and limitless, and begin to think of ourselves differently, in a humbler but more fruitful way.’ These are the kind of words that will create a godly future for us all”. 

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