What happened to Pope Francis’ Magnum Opus?

This week I gave a presentation during the seminar held at the International Conference Centre of Seychelles on Laudato Si – Our Common Home, Pope Francis’ Encyclical.

The Encyclical was relased on Earth Day in April 2015. Its now 3 years old and has been debated by many so I’m not going to discuss the content. Rather I want to talk about my personal experience with it.

I read it as soon as it was available as a PDF on the net in April 2015. I read it from cover to cover. In my opinion its the most important document written by any religious leader on the human condition as it relates to nature and in turn back to itself. I am not a Christian but you don’t have to be a follower or even a believer to be taken by document.

One of the things that amazes me is that it is the first time I see a major religious leader agreeing with scientists on matters such as climate change even though there a are prominent catholic politicians in the US and elsewhere who are science detractors and climate change deniers.

In May 2015 I wrote to the Bishop Denis Wiehe of the Catholic Church in Seychelles about it and pledged my support to push it forward. The Bishop arranged an interaction between myself and the senior clergy soon after that. We must have spent at least a couple of hours discussing this magnus opus. At that time it was only available as a print-out. In July of that year the publication was released and the Bishop sent me a copy.

That was in 2015. What puzzles me is that this incredible thesis has found so little traction even within the Catholic church. I couldn’t find any press documents and briefings from the Vatican on it. I would have thought there would have been educational and awareness’ resources produced. Nothing. At the Paris Climate Change summit in 2015, which I attended, it didn’t rock the international community like Time magazine said it would. Why is that? Why is it that 3 years later we are re- introducing it? I don’t have the answers to these questions but I believe they are important for us to debate.


Author: Dr. Nirmal Shah

Nirmal is a well-known and a passionate personality in the Seychelles environmental and sustainability scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He has worked in senior positions in the parastatal, government, private and NGO sectors and consulted for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, Radio France, PBS, NBC, ABC, SABC and others

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