Laudato Si’ in a Nutshell

by Norman Lévesque, theologian and environmentalist

Compilation for  (2015)


Pope Francis addresses the encyclical Laudato Si’ to al humanity. The tradition of the encyclical consisted of writing a “circular letter” that would be read by one bishop and then passed on to every other bishop, one by one, in order to raise awareness about a modern day challenge. Today, the challenge is nothing less then the care for our common home. You are encouragered to read it and pass it on! To help your reading, here are some key elements of the encyclical.


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5 Things to Remember

– “Praised be to you, my Lord”. Praise and gratitude towards God is the key to ecological conversion, in order to love our world and care for it. Saint Francis is the model to follow and his Canticle of the Creatures, from where the expression “Laudato Si” commes from, is a praise to God for the beauty and goodness of Creation. (1, 11, 72, 87, 91, 238, 245)

– Our common Home. The favourite expression in the text to refer to the environment, planet earth. This way, we don’t make the earth divine (Goddess Gaia), neither do we reduce its value to a simple object (natural resources). The Earth is where the human family and all creatures live and it is where God provides for them. The respect of our common home insures a sustainable future. (1, 3, 13, 17, 21, 53, 61, 155, 164, 232, 243)

– Everything is connected. All creatures, including human beings, are all linked together to make up systems, that are related between them. That reminds us that we are responsible for how much we consume. Interdependance also invites us into a universal fraternity. (16, 70, 91, 92, 117, 120, 138, 142, 240)

 Cri de la terre, cri des pauvres. Cry of the earth, cry of the poor. Environmental degradation affects the poorest (who cannot adapt). When we study the causes of pauverty,  it is often because of an unfair redtitribution of resources, which is the same system that destroys the environment. The poor and the earth and speechless. (2, 70, 117, 139)

– Change is possible. When confronted with the environmental crisis, in front of oppressing power that destroys nature, some are discouraged. The pope encourages us by reminding us that every action makes a difference and that each prophetic voice adds us to others in order to bring change. (13, 17, 163, 202, 208, 211, 217, 219)


3 New Concepts (almost new)

– Love Creation and all creatures. Pope Francis insists that we should not only “be careful”, not only “respect”, but we are called to love Creation, to love every creature and live fraternally with them, in communion with them like saint Francis did. Jesus also told us that the Father cares for every creature, which makes it an integral part of our faith. (4, 56, 179, 211, 213, 240)

– Humans don’t own the Earth. God is the owner. Our society encourages possession, but the only landlord is the Lord. When we “own” land, it is only with the goal to manage it for the common good.  (67, 77, 83)

– Humans are not the purpose of other creatures. In other words, They were not created “for us”, but by God and for God. (83)

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4 Canadian Concerns

– Exploitating fossil fuels. “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.” (165)

– Mining policies. “A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining..” (51)

– Relations with the First Nations. “In this sense, it is essential to show special care for indigenous communities and their cultural traditions. They are not merely one minority among others, but should be the principal dialogue partners, especially when large projects affecting their land are proposed.” For them, land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values.” (146)

– Slow down growth. “But we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development.” (191)



5 Surprising Facts

– Dialogue with science. The encyclical has “the aim of drawing on the results of the best scientific research available today, letting them touch us deeply and provide a concrete foundation for the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows.” This shows how far the Church is from the old contriversies of Galilee and Darwin. (15 and chap. 1)

– Ecumenical Dialogue. In the introduction, three paragraphs quote the Patriarch of Constantinople, from the Orthodox Church, “with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.” There are a few instances when the pope invites the Churches, the other religions and non believers into dialogue in order to care for our common home. (7, 8, 9)

– Thanking ecologists. The pope personnaly thanks those who work to preserve the environment and he highlights the work of the worldwide environmental movement that made “considerable progress”. (13, 14, 108, 169, 209)

– A quote from the Earth Charter. It is unusual for a civil declaration to be found in the argument of an encyclical. This openess is an example of the objective to work with all people of good will. (207)

– A quote from a muslim. In presenting the mystical spirituality in paragraph 233, Pope Francis invites to find God in all things, quoting St. Bonaventure. But in the footnote page, it also cites Ali al-Khawwaç, a Sufi Muslim. (233)



Evolution of the ecological message from the popes

– Pope Paul VI : Development helps to feed the poor, but to produce sustainable fruit, it must respect the laws of nature.

– Pope John Paul II : When environmental degradation affects the poor, it must me stopped. (Social Doctrine of Church is mostly based on his writings)

– Pope Benedict XVI : We must protect the natural environment, because God created it with proper order. (nicknamed the “Green Pope”)

– Francis: Care for our common home and live fraternally with all creatures.





(words from popes and saint Francis of Assisi)

(a scientific perspective)

(a biblical perspective)

(an ethical perspective)

(searching for the common good)

(a social and political perspective)

(a spiritual perspective to transmit)

A prayer for our earth (for all believers)
A Christian prayer in union with creation


This compilation was written by Norman Lévesque, theologian and environmentalist. This text may be reproduced elsewhere, and we thank you for indicating the source: Lévesque, Norman. (2015). “Laudato Si’ in a Nutshell”,  .