“The Letter: A Message for our Earth”
This new documentary offers insight into the personal story of Pope Francis and amplifies unheard voices of those affected by the climate crisis
In 2015, Pope Francis wrote a pastoral letter called Laudato Si’, a reflection on the state of the planet, which confronted the looming calamity of human impact on the Earth and all life on it.
The letter was one of the most revolutionary papal statements in history. It sparked both controversy and praise as the Pope stressed how the people whose voices are not heard – the poor and disenfranchised – are suffering the most devastating effects of the crisis.
The documentary follows developments of the climate crisis since the Pope wrote of Laudato Si’ and takes viewers around the world to witness how climate change affects people’s daily lives.
Through extraordinary access to Pope Francis, The Letter tells the stories of people whose everyday lives have been severely affected by global warming. As part of his effort to show the world the calamitous effects of climate change, the Pope invited individuals to the Vatican to speak on behalf of four groups — the poor, the Indigenous, the youth, and nature.
The stories of these activists are featured in the film: Arouna Kandé, a climate change refugee from Senegal; Chief Dadá Borarí from the Maró Indigenous Lands of the Brazilian Amazon, which are under attack from uncontrolled deforestation; teenaged climate activist Ridhima Pandey of India; and scientists Greg Asner and Robin Martin from Hawaii, who are raising awareness of the devastating coral loss that threatens more than 25% of marine life.
Inspired by the writings of his namesake, St. Francis, Pope Francis chose the saint’s words, “Laudato Si,’” as the title of his letter. In the documentary, he speaks with scientists and activists about his hopes for the future.
“The cry of freedom has to come from a new generation,” Pope Francis says. “You’re the ones inheriting the Earth.” He emphasizes that the leaders of popular movements and scientists have to work together. “It’s like a choir,” he says. “We have to sing together. And right now, unity means saving Mother Earth, saving biodiversity, saving ourselves and our children.”
Watch The Letter: A Message for our Earth premiere on WITF TV or the PBS Video app on Wednesday, December 21 at 8pm. Stream it for free using the PBS Video app until January 19, 2023.