6 Seattle J. Envtl. L. 1 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/sjel8 and id is 1 raw text is: 











   Laudato Si' and Care for Our Common Home: What
             does it mean for the legal professional?



                           Lucia A. Silecchid


                              I. INTRODUCTION
      Pope Francis's recent encyclical, Laudato Si' (Praised Be You),I
has been one of the most widely anticipated papal documents in recent
memory. It has also received far more secular and popular commentary
                                                 S 2
than would be expected of a papal encyclical. Yet, while Laudato Si'
has been widely dubbed the climate change encyclical, it is far broader
than that.
      In Laudato Si, Pope Francis certainly discusses care for creation or,
as he calls it, care for our common home.        By referencing our com-
mon home as an important part of Laudato Si's title itself, Pope Francis
emphasizes his belief in the interconnectedness of the natural environ-
ment, the human environment, the spiritual life, and the ethical challeng-
es of life in a global community. The emphasis on the natural environ-
ment in Laudato Si' will make this document a landmark in religious




     T Lucia A. Silecchia, Professor of Law and Vice Provost for Policy, The Catholic University of
America. An earlier version of these remarks followed the Diocese of Austin's Red Mass on October
8, 2015. I am deeply grateful to the Diocese of Austin for the invitation to speak to the Catholic legal
community of Austin and for the kind welcome I received. I am also grateful to Ms. Barbara McCoy
for her administrative assistance with this project and Ms. Tiffany Tse for her research assistance.
     1. Pope Francis, Laudato Si' [Encyclical Letter on Care for Our Common Home] (May 24,
2015), http://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/encyclicals/documents/papa-
francesco 20150524 enciclica-laudato-si en.pdf [hereinafter Laudato Si'].
     2. Papal teaching is found in many different genres. An encyclical is one of the more formal of
these genres as it is a letter written by a Pope addressing an important, often current, topic of concern
to the Catholic Church and to the world. While in the past, these letters were traditionally addressed
only to other bishops and to clergy, today they are also addressed to the lay faithful and, often, to all
people of good will. For discussion of an encyclical's binding authority in the particular context of
Laudato Si,' see generally Adelaide Mena, Infallible? Informal? How binding is the new encyclical
on Catholics?, CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY (June 19, 2015), available at
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/infallible -informal-how-binding-is-the-new-encyclical-
on-catholics-24963/.
     3 Id.

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