Skip to content
CAFOD

Pope Francis’ rallying call Laudate Deum urges the world to act on climate crisis

4 October 2023

Pope Francis has issued a rousing call to action in a new teaching, Laudate Deum, released today, as he seeks to provoke governments, business and citizens into desperately needed action, warning that the “world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point” (Laudate Deum: 2). In the eagerly anticipated follow-up to his 2015 landmark encyclical Laudato Si’, Pope Francis questions what has been achieved in the past eight years and what progress still needs to be made.

Pope Francis is direct in his condemnation of profit at any cost, and of the desperation of the situation: “we are now unable to halt the enormous damage we have caused. We barely have time to prevent even more tragic damage” (LD:16). Laudate Deum is the first time the phrase "climate crisis" has appeared in an encyclical or exhortation.

Laudate Deum looks at the reality of the climate crisis today, the weakness of international policy regarding the climate crisis (“with the passage of time, I have realized that our responses have not been adequate” - LD:2), calls for real commitment to the planet at the next climate conference in Dubai, and discusses the spiritual motivations for such a fight.

Christine Allen, Director at Catholic aid agency CAFOD, says:

“As Pope Francis reminds us, human beings and the earth are not replaceable commodities. We are interdependent and connected. Yet we continue to put greed over and above our love for each other or for our planet. We echo his calls for measures that will help to re-balance our world: including phasing out all fossil fuels and investing in clean energy sources.

“World leaders – including the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – cannot shirk their responsibility to the millions around the world who have contributed least to the heating of our planet. Instead of making hundreds of trips in private jets, politicians in wealthy countries must lead the way: facing up to our historic responsibility as a major polluter, and providing more financial and technical support for communities to respond to the effects of climate change.”

Ahead of COP28 in Dubai next month, Laudate Deum holds world leaders and industry giants to account, questioning what has been achieved over the last decade. Laudate Deum says that prior Climate Conferences have had a low level of implementation as personal interests are privileged over the common good, appealing to politicians “may they demonstrate the nobility of politics and not its shame” (LD: 60).

“Not enough progress has been made since the Pope’s groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’. The effects of climate change and loss of biodiversity have hit the poorest the hardest,” said Christine Allen.

Laudate Deum means “Praise God” and takes the form of an ‘apostolic exhortation’ – one of the highest teachings a Pope can issue. It follows the Pope’s groundbreaking 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, which stirred the world to action and influenced the historic Paris Climate Agreement. Subtitled "on care for our common home", Laudato Si’ urges us to realise "everything is connected” and hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.

The publication of Laudate Deum is extraordinary in its commentary of the different international Conference of the Parties (COP) with a very specific call to action at COP28: “If there is sincere interest in making COP28 a historic event that honours and ennobles us as human beings, then one can only hope for binding forms of energy transition” (LD:59).

CAFOD, the official overseas aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, works at the frontline of climate crises and conflict in over 40 countries.

As Laudate Deum says, “How can we forget that Africa, home to more than half of the world’s poorest people, is responsible for a minimal portion of historic emissions?” (LD: 9)

Isacko Molu, Director of Caritas Marsabit in Kenya, a partner of CAFOD, says:

“In northern Kenya we are seeing just what happens when world leaders fail to reduce carbon emissions. A painful and prolonged drought – the region’s worst in over 40 years – is forcing people from their homes and land. We can’t afford more dithering or delays by world leaders.

“Pope Francis inspires us in our work and is right to lambast the determined work of humans to damage creation. The lands I grew up in as the son of a pastoral farmer are no longer recognisable: baren and dry, they – and the communities who relied upon them – are just some of those who have lost out from the greed and indecision of world leaders.”

Notes to Editors

  1. For more information and interviews please contact Laura Ouseley (laura.ouseley@cafod.org.uk, +44 (0)7909 875956). CAFOD’s 24-hour media hotline is +44 (0)7919 301 429.

  2. Laudate Deum, subtitled ‘to all people of good will on the climate crisis’ is available to download here: https://www.humandevelopment.va/en/news/2023/laudate-deum.html

  3. 4 October is the feast of St Francis of Assisi and also the first day of a month-long assembly for the Synod on Synodality and the conclusion of the Season of Creation, a Vatican-supported ecumenical initiative about caring for the environment.

  4. CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. We work in more than forty countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Communities we work with are witnessing the everyday impact of the climate crisis, with extreme weather patterns, drought, flooding and cyclones affecting millions of vulnerable people every year.

  5. CAFOD offers the following spokespeople:

    • Christine Allen, Executive Director at CAFOD, directs the agency’s work in over 40 countries worldwide and can comment on: Previous interventions from Pope Francis and what Laudate Deum will mean for world leaders; The impact of Pope Francis’s climate teaching to date on Catholics around the world, including on CAFOD’s work globally; Her recent experiences visiting Kenyan communities served by CAFOD who are experiencing the worst drought in over 40 years.

    • Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at CAFOD, is an expert on the Catholic Church and the environment, working alongside the Vatican on environmental policy. He can speak about: The impact of Pope Francis on international climate negotiations and the diplomatic role played by the Holy See; How Laudate Deum relates to the recent UK government rollback on climate targets and policy; The global Catholic Church and his 30+ years’ experience working alongside vulnerable communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America that Pope Francis wants to spotlight through his latest publication.

    • Isacko Molu is Director of Caritas Marsabit in Kenya, a partner of CAFOD. Isacko grew up as the son of a pastoralist in Marsabit, in Northern Kenya – an area of Kenya that has been blighted by the worst drought in 40 years, prompting a food crisis and widespread displacement. He can speak about: Growing up as a pastoralist as drought took hold in Kenya; CAFOD’s work in supporting local communities who are struggling to feed their families and maintain livestock; What the Pope’s Laudate Deum means for rural communities in Kenya.

ENDS

How can I respond to Laudate Deum?

Campaign with us

Sign our petition urging the Prime Minister not to backtrack on climate action.

Make a donation

Your gift could provide a family with food, water, shelter and a way to earn a living. CAFOD has partners across the world, working wherever the need is greatest.

Day 4 (5 March) 28403 web.jpg

What does CAFOD do?

We are an international development charity who reach out to people living in poverty with practical help, whatever their religion or culture. CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part of Caritas International.

Through our global Church network, one of the largest in the world, we have the potential to reach everyone. And we campaign for global justice, so that every woman, man and child can live a full and dignified life.