The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) welcomes the release of Pope Francis’ papal encyclical Laudato Sii

June 18, 2015


We celebrate the faithful witness and words of Pope Francis today as he encourages responsible, loving care for God’s creation in the release of his papal encyclical Laudato Sii. We affirm its echo of the great St. Francis’ reverence for nature. At the same time, we join the Pope in the urgency of truth-telling: we humans are largely responsible for global warming and we have to find ways to reverse track. The Pope is calling us all to environmental conversion: may we together find the immense moral and spiritual energy that the world powers have been lacking so far.

This is a great day to remember our call to protect the earth and to care for brothers and sisters around the world. Indeed we praise God for ongoing reminders of our human vocation as stewards of God’s good earth. We cannot separate the health of people from the health of the whole creation.

In the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we are greatly concerned about environmental degradation. Climate disruption in particular is a threat to this and future generations and to God’s creation. In 2008, our General Assembly said,

With our Lord, we will stand with the “least of these” (Matt. 25:40) and advocate for the poor and oppressed in present and future generations who are often the victims of environmental injustice and who are least able to mitigate the impact of global warming that [is falling] disproportionately on them. … [W]e implore our nation to accept its moral responsibility to address global warming. (The Power to Change: U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming, approved by the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); Minutes, 2008, Part I p. 935)

Our Presbyterian policies witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every dimension of life, including our relationship as stewards of God’s earth. While admitting our own complicity, we are trying to find new ways of living and being. Presbyterian churches are engaging in efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, to preach and teach on creation care, and to increase their commitment to renewable energy. Meanwhile, our PC(USA) agencies are committed to additional sustainable practices such as energy efficiency loans and fossil-free investment vehicles. Our General Assembly has recognized the need for a complete and systemic energy shift for this nation and are convinced that we must achieve it at all levels—from individual homes and local communities to public policy at national and global levels.

Pope Francis’ leadership, wisdom, and pastoral care are evident in the encyclical, and we deeply appreciate this powerful, faith-filled encouragement for all people to join together to care for God’s creation. We affirm the moral conviction that we must turn from individual and corporate practices that harm the creation and participate in healing, protecting, and caring for the world. We will continue to work in partnerships with other faith communities and in the public sector as we all seek to better care for all people and all creation. Finally, we applaud the inspiring leadership of Pope Francis and look forward to seeing what transformative commitments will result from this ethical mandate to care for creation.

  1. If we are to support the stopping of fossil fuel use, then everyone who is supporting divesting or any other total withdrawal from fossil fuels should also do so themselves. This also means speaking out when PCUSA celebrates gifts to send college ministers to fly to France or others on trips and use fossil fuels. It seems hypocritical go on a plane that uses more fossil fuel on one flight than most people use in their fossil fuel driven cars for a year. We all should try and be ecologically responsible but our church (PCUSA) cannot support total withdrawal and condemnation of fossil fuel use without also condemning the use of fossil fuels in our mission work. Are we justifying fossil fuel use if it helps those we believe need us there?

    by Kerry Pollard

    July 22, 2015

  2. Verse 1 Psalm 24 states in part "The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness". God has "charged" us to take care of the earth. We should be teaching this to ourselves and the "next generation. April 22nd is Earth Day. Let us celebrate God's great gift.

    by robert h wright jr

    June 30, 2015

  3. Are fossil fuels part of the original creation, or are they a result of sin? Assuming they are part of the original creation, why would God have created them? What good are they if we don't use them? If their use is solely bad, why did He create them at all? In His sovereignty, wouldn't he have known we would find them and use them as an energy source? Couldn't He have stopped us from doing so if He wanted to? Similarly, since He created them and knew we were going to use them, couldn't He have created the rest of the earth (trees, water, air) to act as filters and cleansers, which would remove the impurities and use them for their benefit? For example, trees breathing and NEEDING carbon dioxide, aka "harmful carbon emissions" according to mass media and the pope! Before Christians jump on the Greenhouse Gas bandwagon, we need to take a careful look at ALL the statistical evidence pertaining to the subject, including the many, MANY scientists who say global warming is not a new phenomenon, nor proven to be caused by man.

    by Daniel Woodman

    June 18, 2015

  4. Thank you for your support of Pope Francis' encyclical and for your pledge to work in partnerships with other faith communities and in the public sector. In this way we publicly stand for God's creation and not consumerism.

    by Rick Johnson

    June 18, 2015

  5. This pope is truly for humankind.

    by craig clark

    June 18, 2015

  6. Alleluia amen! Thank you Pope Francis, Saint Francis, and Gradye for lifting before us this great challenge of Jesus to love. I pray we as a denomination continue on in this work as eco-stewards, and begin putting our money where our faith is, and commit to divest fully from fossil fuels to build a new and more just green economy for all, especially the world's poor.

    by Rob Mark

    June 18, 2015

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