Pope Francis And Laudato Si’: An Evaluation Of Papal Influence In Global Environmental Policy
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In June of 2015, Pope Francis published what would become, with regard to international politics, arguably the most impactful papal encyclical in recent times. Francis’s encyclical letter, Laudato Si’, discusses the scientific and moral causes that are responsible for the onset of modern climate change. Six months later, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, convened in Paris to negotiate the most comprehensive environmental agreement since the Kyoto Protocol, The Paris Agreement. During the six months in between these two events, Pope Francis and his administration promoted Laudato Si’ and its message concerning environmental action. Francis himself travelled to many nations and met with numerous world leaders and governing bodies. In this time, Francis was praised by many politicians (and criticized by some) for the ideas in his encyclical and accounted for an enormous amount of public interest. Additionally, at the environmental conference in Paris, the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC, COP 21, Francis and Laudato Si’ were mentioned explicitly by several heads of state in their addresses to the COP. Pope Francis’s political activity, international travel, influence at COP 21, and the attention he received from politicians, media, and the general public were all exceedingly high in comparison to previous popes. This thesis seeks to answer the following questions: Given that the four popes immediately before Francis discussed environmental issues, why is that Pope Francis and Laudato Si’ received so much attention? What effects did Pope Francis ultimately have on global environmental policy? What type of power does the modern Catholic Church and the modern pope wield? How can we measure these somewhat nebulous ideas of power and influence? Ultimately, what kind of influence can a religious organization, specifically the Catholic Church, have on policymaking?