Lecture seeks to examine Pope Francis’ encyclical letter


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Pope Francis is widely liked by people of not only the Catholic faith but of other religions of the world.

Danni Toughill

Anne Clifford’s lecture Tuesday night concerning Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on ecology took an in-depth approach in attempting to further explain his main idea.

“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” Pope Francis asked.

In the Sun Room of the Memorial Union, Clifford, who is the current Monsignor James A. Supple Chair of Catholic Studies at Iowa State, focused on examining Pope Francis’s idea and encyclical letter in anticipation of his visit to the United States. 

An encyclical is a letter from the pope to promote worldwide knowledge on a major issue. Francis’ encyclical ecology was released in June and focuses entirely on the environment.

The official title of Pope Francis’ encyclical is “Laudato Si’,” which translates to “Praise be,” and has many unique features that other encyclicals have not had.

The pope cites Eastern Orthodox Christian, Protestant and Muslim authors and also admitted, without being prompted, that he was not the only primary author.

Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana also assisted in writing the encyclical. Both the pope and the cardinal are from the global south and “less-developed” economic regions. Another unique feature of the encyclical is that Francis calls for dialogue 30 times.

And while other popes have addressed environmental problems, only Francis has devoted his entire encyclical to the environment.

Encyclicals encourage people around the world to take action in the matter at hand. Pope Francis will arrive at Joint Base Andrews at 4 p.m. Sept. 22 and will be greeted by President Obama. It is Francis’ first trip to the United States, and he is visiting Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

Francis will address the United Nations on Sept. 25. Other popes have chosen to follow up their encyclicals with action such as installing solar panels in the Vatican City. Francis has chosen to begin his encyclical follow-up by addressing the United Nations and proposing sustainable development goals.

Clifford demonstrated in her lecture that we can work together to take care of the environment and care for our common home if each person chooses to take steps in the right direction.

The pope asked, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”

A response awaits.