How Laudate Deum Fails

Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, is a hard document to characterize. Exhortations are supposed to encourage Catholics in their faith. However, this document deals with ecological issues and is addressed to “all people of goodwill on the climate crisis.”

Thus, the work reads more like an eco-lamentation, a written debate, or a United Nations report, not a theological treatise. It breaks all the rules. Lacking are the citations of saints and theologians. Its style can be imposing, allowing for no other climate opinions.

The text comments upon recent meetings and events, taking away the atemporal tone and gravitas found in past pontifical pronouncements meant to counsel future generations. Papal documents also do not normally get technical, as this one does, with its discussion of carbon emissions, global temperature readings, and climate statistics.

The document is not original. It was announced as a second part of the pope’s earlier environmental encyclical, Laudato si’. However, this much shorter 7500-word supplement has little to add since it quotes the earlier work nineteen times.

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