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Laudato Si’: Pope Francis says he is writing a new document on the environment

Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience, in Paul VI hall at the Vatican.
Pope Francis holds the weekly general audience, in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Copyright Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS
Copyright Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS
By Euronews Green with Reuters
Published on Updated
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The previous document is thought to have had an impact on commitments at the 2015 Paris climate conference.

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Pope Francis said on Monday (21 August) that he was writing a follow-up to his landmark 2015 document on the protection of the environment and the dangers of climate change "to bring it up to date".

He made the surprise announcement in a brief, unprepared addition to a speech to a group of lawyers from the Council of Europe countries.

In 2015, Francis wrote Laudato Si (Praised Be), a major document on the need to protect the environment, face the dangers and challenges of climate change and reduce the use of fossil fuels. Known as an encyclical, it is the highest form of papal writing.

"I am writing a second part to Laudato Si to bring it up to date with current problems," Francis told the group, without elaborating.

What did Pope Francis's last document say?

The 184-page encyclical, which made Francis a hero to many climate activists, was seen to have influenced the decisions taken later that year at the Paris climate conference that set goals to limit global warming.

Laying out the scientific case for human-caused climate change, it lamented environmental degradation and global warming while criticising consumerism and consumption. The document warned of "serious consequences for all of us" if things continued as they were.  

At the time it was issued, some conservative Catholics allied with conservative political movements and corporate interests fiercely criticised the pope for backing the opinion of a majority of scientists who said global warming was at least partly due to human activity.

Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS
US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry meets with Pope Francis, at the Vatican, June 19, 2023.Vatican Media/­Handout via REUTERS

US climate envoy and former Secretary of State John Kerry told Reuters in an interview in June after meeting the pope that the encyclical had a "profound impact" on the Paris Conference. For countries with large Catholic populations, it translated into strong climate commitments at the summit.  

What could the new document look like?

In his comments on Monday, Francis did not specify what form the second part of Laudato Si would take, when it would be released or how it would elaborate on the original.

In the eight years since the document was published, the world has seen an increase in extreme weather events such as more intense and prolonged heat waves, more frequent wildfires and more severe hurricanes.

Last year, a senior Vatican official whose brief includes the environment, said such events had become the "new normal" and had shown that the time for climate change denial and scepticism was over.

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