Eternal Law and Environmental Policy: Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, and a Thomistic Approach to Climate Change

  • James T. McHugh
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Religion, Politics, and Policy book series (PSRPP)


The inspiration and methodology for Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, has been credited to various philosophical and theological sources. One such influence that may not have received the attention that it deserves (though it is consistent with Pope Francis’ background and training as a Jesuit) is the moral theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In particular, the encyclical’s attention to climate change and its biological, economic, moral, and social implications for the planet are highly consistent with an underappreciated category of law within the Thomistic tradition, which is the eternal law. Understanding this influence provides broader insights into the reconciliation of faith and reason in support of the sort of environmental and social justice policies that this encyclical appears to promote.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • James T. McHugh
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Akron/University of VermontAkronUSA

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