Prophecy and hope. An initial appraisal of Laudato Si?

Ashley Beck

This article presents an initial overview of Pope Francis? encyclical on the environment. Ashley Beck is a priest of the Archdiocese of Southwark, and Programme Director of Pastoral Ministry at St Mary?s University, Twickenham.

The nature of modern communications is such that when a document like a papal encyclical appears, people want an instant response. The publication in June 2015 of the first encyclical letter from the hand of Pope Francis, Laudato Si?1, is a very good example. Because it was eagerly anticipated and also leaked a few days before publication to an Italian newspaper, and also because it is in many ways controversial, a number of us were asked for very quick appraisals.2 I am writing this appraisal within a fortnight of its publication, but of course you will read it some weeks later.

Back in 2009 I wrote for this journal a similar initial appraisal of Pope Benedict XVI?s encyclical on social teaching, Caritas in Veritate.3 That document, which has been rather neglected since its publication (perhaps because of its author?s resignation) is an important point of reference for what Pope Francis is doing, so it is good to be able to assess initially now Laudato Si?.

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