Religion and Integral Ecology: Five Years of Laudato Si

November 4, 2020

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Looking up at tree canopy in a forest

“The cry of the earth and of the poor cannot continue,” writes Pope Francis in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home. The pivotal encyclical, now marking its fifth-anniversary year, uses the concept of “integral ecology” as a means to highlight the deep connections between environmental, economic, social, and political justice worldwide. Faith communities and religious ethics can play important roles in integral ecology so conceived, contributing to activism, engagement, and policymaking on climate change and creation care. Ongoing events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and protests for racial justice in the United States, provide a critical juncture to reflect on the relationship between religion, ecology, and the common good.

 The Berkley Center explored some of these themes in a two-day conference on "Interreligious Responses to Laudato Si" in October 2020. The conference focused on the impact of the encyclical across faith traditions, featuring a keynote from Cardinal Miguel Ayuso, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Complementing the event, the Berkley Forum invites scholars to consider different understandings of religious ecology and environmental activism.   

This week the Berkley Forum asks: How do different religious traditions understand the intersection of ecology and forms of (in)justice? What do various religious traditions envision as our moral obligations to the environment? In what ways do religious ethics and faith-based organizations contribute—both positively and negatively—to environmental activism on the ground? What are some of the current challenges and possibilities of faith engagement on climate change and other environmental issues? How can interreligious dialogue help faith communities to build a coalition on integral ecology?

related story | "Climate Activist Bill McKibben, Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Speak on Environmental Justice at Berkley Center"

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