‘Laudato si’ (Italian for "Praise Be to You") is the first encyclical of Pope Francis. The encyclical has the subtitle on the care for our common home. In this encyclical, the Pope slams attacks against human life such as abortion, embryonic experimentation and population control — saying that respect for creation and human dignity go hand-in-hand. The encyclical, dated 24 May 2015, was officially published at noon on 18 June 2015, accompanied by a news conference. The Vatican released the document in Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, English, Polish and Arabic.
The title of the encyclical is an Umbrian phrase from Saint Francis of Assisi's 13th-century Canticle of the Sun (also called the Canticle of the Creatures), a poem and prayer which praises God through elements of creation like Brother Sun, Sister Moon…..
The first chapter, “What Is Happening to Our Common Home”, looks at the various symptoms of environmental degradation. The second chapter, “The Gospel of Creation”, considers the world the way that God intended it. The third chapter, “The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis”, examines the twin notions of what it calls the “technocratic paradigm” and a “modern anthropocentrism” born out of a view that sees nature as a mere given, devoid of any spiritual or transcendental value. In the fourth chapter, “Integral Ecology”, the encyclical charts a path to recapture awareness of the interconnectedness of creation. The fifth chapter, “Lines of Approach and Action”, sets out various international collective actions needed. The sixth chapter, “Ecological Education and Spirituality”, shifts attention to the individual believer, families and communities, and invites them to make a difference in small but tangible ways.
The pope explains that “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings”. “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” he asks.
The pope also addresses the highly debated topic of population control, a proposed solution to problems stemming from poverty and maintaining a sustainable consumption of the earth’s resources. “Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate,” Francis laments.
In the encyclical, Pope Francis also speaks of the importance of accepting and caring for one’s body, since it is through the body that man relates to the environment and to other living things. Accepting and caring for our bodies in their truest nature is essential for human ecology, he says, and stresses that this acceptance includes “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity”. In acknowledging differences, “we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment,” the pope observes.
The pontiff also points to the important role that families play in educating about true integral human and environmental ecology; family is where children first learn how “to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures,” as well as how to be grateful for what they’ve been given and to ask for forgiveness when they’ve caused harm, he explains.