Viewpoint: The Eco-Pope at Year Four

At the four-year anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis, there's much to celebrate, much to ponder, and a couple of concerns, Bill Patenaude writes in There were worries in the Catholic eco-sphere when Benedict XVI, the Green Pope, announced his abdication of the papacy in 2013. Would the next pope continue his teaching on environmental protection? Would the Vatican continue its sustainability mission?

I was certain that Benedict's successor wouldn't disappoint us, but I didn't expect the far-reaching impact of Pope Francis. From his homily at the Mass of his installation, on the Feast of Saint Joseph, to Laudato Si' and onward to this very day, Pope Francis has firmly engrained ecology within the life of Catholic Social Teaching.

Just a few months into his pontificate, Francis introduced what would become a central theme to his eco-teachings and his understanding of the global human condition. At his June 5th, 2013 General Audience, he spoke of the "culture of waste" in a way that seamlessly linked with his predecessors' teachings, and that would foreshadow the concept of integral ecology that two years later would take flight in Laudato Si'.

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