Guest blog: Pope Francis, “the climate is a common good, of all and for all”

Today, Patrick Snell, Climate and Energy Policy Specialist for Iowa Interfaith Power and Light, joins us as a guest blogger to discuss Pope Francis’ encyclical, “”Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home.”

Creating a unique space and dialogue to address the moral issue of climate change and it’s impact on the world’s most impoverished, today Pope Francis released his highly anticipated encyclical, “Laudato Si: On the Care of the Common Home.” The encyclical calls for all people of faith to recognize our impact on the world around us and to take responsibility as stewards of the earth.

Photo credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images.

Photo credit: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images.

While care for the environment and those most disadvantaged has long been a pillar of Catholic social teaching, this encyclical looks to raise the urgency of the moral obligation: that for better or worse our actions today on the environment will have lasting impacts on the people around us and on future generations. However, the encyclical is much broader than climate change and discusses consumption, waste, social issues and the integral global forces that affect our “common home”.

A papal encyclical is a letter from the Pope to the Bishops of the church, addressing a specific issue and reaffirming Catholic doctrine. For example, another widely read and famous papal encyclical is “Pacem in Terris,” or “Peace On Earth,” written by Pope John XXIII in 1963 to address the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons during the middle of the Cold War. What is interesting about “Laudato Si” in relation to “Pacem in Terris is that instead of being addressed only to Catholics, it is addressed to everyone, signifying that Pope Francis believes that all people, regardless of religion or beliefs, has role to play and a moral obligation to act on behalf of those who are most vulnerable.

We at Iowa Interfaith Power and Light applaud Pope Francis’s outspoken leadership and know that climate change is a moral imperative that needs to be addressed by all.  Since 2006 we have been working with individuals and congregations in communities across the state who are already adapting to the economic and social effects of climate change. We look forward to growing and continuing those partnerships as we work together to support renewable energy, reduce carbon pollution, and create a healthier environment. If those of faith across the world can come together to agree on climate change, surely the nations of the world – including the United States – can do the same.

Patrick Snell is the Climate and Energy Policy Specialist for Iowa Interfaith Power and Light. If you would like to know more about this topic please email him at or visit


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