Interested in how, as much as what, the leader of 1.2bn Catholics has to say about climate change and so I read Laudato Si…

….or, more truthfully, I speed read it because it is very long. I would like to say it’s too long but it isn’t. It’s a serious piece of writing. I would like to find time to read it slowly. It lacks an official executive summary at the top to help us get the core points quickly. This has resulted in some commentators summarising it in accordance with their own views. Any CEO, and in my mind he is a CEO, would I’m sure be pleased if they could write like this. He appears to obey all the best rules of writing. He tells us what he’s going to say, then says it and then tells us what he has said – more or less. He refers to his predecessors and to his colleagues in a manner that is compelling. He picks up the points of his detractors honestly and tries to address them. The commentators agree that this is and will be an influential piece. I can see why, although for me, as an Angry Cradle Catholic, (i.e. furious with the organisation, but one who believes in the core message and the integrity of the individual) it’s a relief to hear the Church talk about issues other than sex although it finds its way into this encyclical as well. It’s also nice to read, albeit buried deep in paragraph one hundred and something that “business is a noble vocation”. Thank goodness for that. I love business. I also like how he refers to the planet as “our common home” although I struggle with him calling it “our sister”. The best line for me is the short sentence: “We are not God”. I challenge anyone to challenge that. Indeed the value of this document is that it can be used by anyone, irrespective of their beliefs, who cares about economics and business because many of the core issues are so cleverly argued. However, it fails to deliver for me what the Church always fails to deliver for me which is a route map from where we are, to where we need to be, which is realistic. An encyclical on the value and nobility of good business is overdue. Saying that governments must intervene on behalf of small producers is all well and good but without explaining how that works in practice leaves me distrusting the whole piece. That said, I would encourage all leaders to read Laudato Si’. It’s an excellent contribution to leadership thinking. If it helps you to change your leadership of your business, even in a small way, I suspect that it will be a profound change.

Ciaran

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