Laudate Deum: climate experts comment

Scientists, activists and writers gather in the Vatican to give their perspective on Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum.

By Joseph Tulloch

Environmental experts from all over the world gathered today in the Vatican Gardens to comment on Pope Francis’ newly released Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum.

Published on Wednesday 4th October, the Feast of St Francis, the Exhortation calls for immediate action on climate change, warning that we are "barely in time" to avoid catastrophic damage. 

Nine different speakers assembled on Thursday to give their perspective on the document.

These were:

- Giorgio Leonardo Renato Parisi, an Italian physicist and winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics

- Vandana Shiva, an Indian scientist, activist and environmentalist

- Carlo Petrini, an Italian cook, sociologist and activist

- Jonathan Safran Foer, a US writer

- Luisa-Marie Neubauer, leader of the 'Fridays for Future' movement in Germany

- Benoit Halgand, co-founder of the French youth organisation ‘Struggle and Contemplation’

- Jubran Ali Mohammed Ali, a climate refugee from Libya

- Ridhima Pandey, a protagonist in the film 'The Letter: A Message for Our Earth'

- Alessandra Sarmentino, an organiser of the Archdiocese of Palermo’s Policoro Project


Giorgio Parisi, the Nobel-winning physicist, began the conference.

He stressed that it is “very important that this Apostolic Exhortation is addressed to all people of good faith” rather than just to members of the Catholic Church, “because, like the Pope has said many times, nobody can be saved alone, and we are all connected.”

In this respect, he said, it is also significant that Pope Francis begins the Exhortation with “a striking list of scientific facts”, since “science is a universal knowledge, a treasure of all humanity”

The writer Jonathan Safran Foer, meanwhile, picked up on Laudate Deum’s urgent call for personal responsibility in the face of the crisis.  

“If we accept the factual reality that we are destroying the planet and dooming future generations,” he said, “but are unable to believe it and change our behaviour in meaningful ways, we reveal ourselves to be just another variety of denier."

“And when the future distinguishes between these two kinds of deniers, which will appear to be a grave error, and which a sin?”.

Ms Neubauer, meanwhile, praised Pope Francis for his words in Laudate Deum, but emphasised the Church’s need to continue down the road of ecological conversion.

“The official 2020 Laudato si' guidelines endorsed fossil fuel divestment,” she said. “Now the rest of the Church must follow suit.”

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05 October 2023, 17:04