Pope Francis has spent months working on his new encyclical on creation and respect for the environment. According to Vatican sources the Papal document could be released by early 2015. In March, during an audience with Minister General and Councillors of the Franciscan Order, the Pope expressed how much this topic concerns him, and asked them for advice.

Our Minister General, Michael Perry, OFM, says: “The Pope himself brought up the issue of the environment. And he talked about his deep concern that we friars need, and the Church needs, to find the way to respond, using the best of science. But also the Church needs to use the goodwill of all humanity, to bring together a consensus on how to respond to the crisis, the ecological crisis.”

To help him reflect on this issue, the Franciscan leaders gave him a copy of their “Franciscans for Ecology” text. In it, they cite several initiatives within this field that the Order has promoted, alongside people of other faiths.

The Pope also turned to other figures like Erwin Kräutler, bishop of Xingu, a diocese in the Amazon greatly affected by deforestation.

Friar Michael says: “I was in the Amazon region in February. I’ve been there three times in the last year, and every time I go I see greater deforestation. And I was just in Eastern Congo where there is conflict over the mineral resources there, and I see the great impact that is having on the social climate.”

But he says the world will have to wait to read the encyclical. “Keep in mind that the Pope, the Church, in October, will have a Synod on family life. There will be a pre-Synod and then the Synod. So the Pope is going be very busy preparing for that Synod. So, some time after October; he might wait until the beginning of the new year to issue the document.”

Friar Michael highlighted that looking after the environment is an issue that all people, believers and non-believers, should work for.