VATICAN: Encyclical on Environment officially Launched

The eagerly awaited Pope Francis’ encyclical entitled Laudato Si’: On the Care for Our Common Home was officially presented for publishing on June 18 at the Vatican.
The encyclical was first discussed at a press conference held at the New Synod Hall, Zenit reported.

Speaking during the ceremony, Fr Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office acknowledged the amount of attention that the encyclical has generated worldwide.

“I have seen countless documents published but very rarely have I seen such a broad and global wait for a document,” said Fr Lombardi.

While acknowledging that the subject of ecology was “thoroughly pondered” by the Holy Father, it was also an issue that he did not consider alone, he said.

“For about a month now, thanks to modern technological communications, the Pope has been preparing the promulgation by sending materials to bishops,” prior to publishing, the Pope also sent a final draft to the bishops along with a handwritten message.

“On this day, we feel that the Universal Church is united to the Pope and conveying to the world a message of responsibility,” Fr Lombardi noted.

“In the bond of unity, charity and peace in which we live as bishops, I send my letter Laudato Si’: On the Care of Our Common Home, accompanied by my blessing. United in the Lord, and please do not forget to pray for me,” the Pope wrote.
In his address during the event, Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace went on to say that Laudato Si’ does not set out to intervene in the climate change debate, which he affirmed “was the responsibility of scientists.”

However, given that human activity is one of the factors contributing to climate change, Cardinal Turkson said that the Church has a “serious moral responsibility to do everything in our power to reduce our impact and avoid the negative effects on the environment and on the poor.”

Speaking on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church, Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamo praised the publishing of the new encyclical.

He also expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis for drawing attention to “protect God’s creation from the damage we humans inflict on it with our behavior towards nature.”

He also said that Laudato Si’ is not only limited to the subject of ecology, but also has an important “ecumenical dimension” that unites all Christians in a common task.

“Pope Francis’ encyclical is a call to unity – unity in prayer for the environment, in the same Gospel of creation, in the conversion of our hearts and our lifestyles to respect and love everyone and everything given to us by God,” said Metropolitan John.

“Some, in particular those from many Episcopal Conferences from all the continents, are mentioned in the footnotes. Others who participated in the various phases of this work all the way to the complex final phases of translation and publication, remain unnamed,” he concluded.

Among those present during the launch were Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Professor Carolyn Woo, CEO and President of Catholic Relief Services and Valeria Marana, a teacher in the outlying areas of Rome.

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