Version classiqueVersion mobile

Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

d) The Pope, the planet and the medieval past

1) Medievalism, globalism and planetary deep time in the environmental writings of Pope Francis

Louise D’Arcens

Texte intégral

1On 18 June 2015, the Vatican website released Pope Francis’s encyclical, Laudato si’: On Care for our Common Home. Uploaded in English, Arabic, and six European languages also spoken in Africa and Latin America, it was instantly and globally available. Addressing his message to “every person living on this planet,” Francis, the first Latin American pope, ameliorates the Eurocentrism of the encyclical’s origin by emphasising the Church’s presence in former colonial societies and the economic global south. A 45,000–word call-to-arms to end anthropogenic environmental destruction, Laudato si’ reaches beyond the global Church, and even beyond global humanity, to claim the planet as home for all life forms. At once ecological, political, and spiritual in its implications, the encyclical constantly shifts scale between the intimate and the vast, the atomic and the cosmic, the global and the planetary. This paper explores the extent to which Pope Francis’s defence of the environment as universal inheritance rests on a densely multi-temporal vision, in which concern for the global future and indebtedness to eternity converge with an affinity with the medieval European past, in particular the ministry of the pontiff’s namesake, St Francis of Assisi. It traces how the medieval saint inspires the Pope’s root-and-branch rejection of capitalism as the cause of planetary degradation and global injustice, and embodies an ethically and theologically profound alternative to the spiritual brokenness of neoliberal existence. I argue that its surprising but apposite invocation of this medieval precedent makes Laudato si’ a virtuosic example of global medievalism.


2Pope Francis, Laudato si’


Macquarie University

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

Licence OpenEdition Books

Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search