Every little bit helps


6 Oct 2023

Pope Francis’ has once again turned the world’s attention to the climate crisis with the release of Laudate Deum.

The Apostolic Exhortation Laudate Deum (‘Praise God’) – released on 4 October and also known as the addendum to Laudato si’ – reminds us of the need for a new ecological spirituality (chapter 6).

It is essential for us to be in constant touch with nature, in awe and wonder of the gift of God’s Creation (p. 64). We have to understand our cosmic origins that unite us with all beings within the universe (p. 67). So, what does it mean to live an ecological spirituality?

I would like to offer three ways in which Laudate Deum encourages us to be ecologically spiritual. The first is through lamentation of the state of the world. The second, is through contemplation of the gift of creation. And third is through the noble acts of individual action, through which we can come to better know God.


The new exhortation lends itself to the need to lament the current state of the world. Lamentation helps us to manage our deep emotions, our anger, our frustration, our hurt, our pain and our sorrow about the state of the world. It allows us to feel these emotions in a ritualistic way which can help us to move forward. The following excerpts from Laudate Deum I have compiled to create a lament.

Laudate Deum Lament
Response: We Lament

Our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.
Response: We Lament

If the global temperature increases by 1.5 degrees, heat waves will be much more frequent and with greater intensity
Response: We Lament

If it should rise above two degrees, the icecaps of Greenland and the large part of Antarctica will melt completely
Response: We Lament

We are now unable to halt the enormous damage we have caused. We barely have time to prevent even more tragic damage
Response: We Lament

Despite the many negotiations and agreements, global emissions continue to increase
Response: We Lament

Fossil fuels still provide 80% of the worlds energy, and their use continues to increase
Response: We Lament

Gas and oil companies are planning new projects . . .  with the aim of further increasing their production . . . [it] would be suicidal, for it would mean exposing humanity, especially the poorest, to the worst impacts of climate change
Response: We Lament

The necessary transition towards clean energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of fossil fuels, is not progressing at the necessary speed
Response: We Lament

We can keep hoping that COP28 will allow for a decisive acceleration of the energy transition
Response: We Hope

[For COP 28] one can only hope for binding forms of energy transition that meet three conditions: that they be efficient, obligatory and readily monitored . . . A new process marked by three requirements: that it be drastic, intense and count on the commitment of all
Response: We Hope

God’s creation

There are many ways in which we can enter into a practice of contemplation on the wonder of God’s Creation.

  • Pray outside
  • Undertake a Ignatian Lectio Divina – but using the Gospel of Creation as the source of meditation
  • Pray the Canticle of the Sun
  • Engage with a practice of walking on country – for example, Dadirri

Personal examination

Last, examination of our daily actions is essential. Pope Francis is calling for ‘everyone to accompany this pilgrimage of reconciliation with the world that is our home and to help make it more beautiful.’ LD 69. ‘Every little bit helps’ LD 70, in decreasing the average global temperature. Furthermore, ‘efforts by households to reduce pollution and waste, and to consume with prudence are creating a new culture’ LD 71 which is essential for our ecological conversion.

Considering our daily actions, habits and consumption can also help us to look inwardly at our own relationship with God. As we contemplate the value of each object, including each organism within the universe, we edge closer to seeing the face of our Creator.

There is also a loud call within the exhortation, as part of our individual actions, to take up the mantle of climate activism. We are called to put pressure on our decision makers in the lead-up to COP28 to speed up the energy transition.

In the past, COPs have not spoken frankly about the impact of fossil fuel extraction, but rather focused purely on the discussion of emissions reduction. This language must change, and we can play our role as voters and citizens.

Sometimes, engaging with politicians can be scary, confusing, frustrating, or feel superfluous. As a young person growing up in Ipswich Queensland, I developed a healthy amount of political cynicism. But I take courage the statement from our Pope about the importance of this work. We have to be brave, not only to ask for change to happen, but to take on these changes ourselves.

Alice Carwardine is a regular contributor to Madonna magazine.

Laudete Deum

Pope Francis’ text is in continuity with his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’. In six chapters and 73 paragraphs, Pope Francis tries to clarify and bring to completion that previous text on integral ecology, while at the same time sounding an alarm, and a call for co-responsibility, in the face of the climate emergency. The text is Laudate Deum is split into six chapters – the global climate crisis; the growing technocratic paradigm; the weakness of international politics; climate conferences: progress and failure; what to expect from COP28 in Dubai?; and spiritual motivations. See here for the apostolic exhortation Laudete Deum.


The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) will be held in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November until 12 December 2023. A report designed to help governments reach a decision on the global stocktake at COP28 has been published by UN Climate Change. The report reflects the views of governments and their perspectives on the main elements that could constitute such a decision. The global stocktake is part of the Paris Agreement and a key means to assess the world’s global response to the climate crisis and chart a better way forward.

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