The Holy Father’s Encyclical Letter entitled Laudato Si’ (the title of St Francis’ Canticle of Creation) – On the Care for Our Common Home, is addressed to all people of goodwill. In it he invites us to renew our attention to situations of environmental degradation but also to the possibility of recovery in everyone’s own areas. He prays that all will receive the message and grow in responsibility towards the common home that God has entrusted to us all.

We believe climate change is largely the result of human activity and it is the world’s poorest who are particularly vulnerable to the effects of a warming planet.

The timing of the Holy Father’s encyclical is significant: 2015 is a critical year for humanity. In July, people from all over the world gathered for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD) in Addis Ababa. In September, Pope Francis will address the UN General Assembly, as world leaders meet to agree on a new set of sustainable development goals running until 2030 (the successors to the Millennium Development Goals).

He will then go on to become the first Pope to address US Congress. The international community, under the remit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will negotiate a new international agreement on slowing and reducing the impacts of climate change, in December in Paris. The months of 2015 are crucial, then, for decisions about stewardship of the earth, and about effective commitment to international development and human flourishing. Pope Francis has stated specifically that the “important thing is that there be a bit of time between the issuing of the encyclical and the meeting in Paris, so that it can make a contribution.”

The Catholic Church has always emphasised the importance of its teaching on “social” matters. Since 1967, through five papacies, there have been at least 20 major statements made on Climate Change and Ecology. It is timely, therefore, that Pope Francis dedicates an encyclical letter to these subjects.

Similarly, there have been many statements made by Bishops from all over the world – Asia, Oceania, Africa, Europe, Latin America, North America – on the environment and the care of creation over the last 30 years or so.

I am sure that during the course of this year and next and into the future there will be many events inspired by the encyclical both within the diocese and nationwide. May Laudato Si’ produce much fruit in our lives for the conversion of the world at every level.