Earth as God’s Creation, The Theology of the Natural World in Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’

Denis Edwards
Professorial Fellow
Australian Catholic University

Abstract: Ecological theologians have long recognised that in the West, particularly in the period since the Reformation, theology and preaching have been largely limited to the relationship between God and humanity, and to inter-human relationships and inter-human justice. What has been left out is the theology of the wider creation. It is a matter of great interest, then, to see how Pope Francis treats the theology of the natural world in his recent encyclical, Laudato Si’. In exploring this theology, I find it notable and important that he develops his thinking in a kind of theological dialogue with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and because of this, in outlining the theology of the natural world in Laudato Si’, I begin by outlining some instances of common teaching on ecological conversion from Patriarch Bartholomew and bishops of Rome. Each of the three sections that follow takes up one thread of the theology of the natural world that runs through Laudato Si’. I bring this analysis to a conclusion with some words from the Ecumenical Patriarch on the encyclical.