Russell Powell


This Essay considers the 2015 papal encyclical Laudato si’s engagement with Islamic religious and legal traditions in order to identify shared ethical and jurisprudential commitments and their broader implications for law. By 2025, Muslims will constitute 30% of the population of the world, while Catholics will likely be between 15% and 20%. The history of interreligious conflict is long and enduring. In many cases, legal structures related to security and immigration have exacerbated these tensions, prompting uncertainty and instability.5 Laudato si’ is a strategic document, intended to address climate change, increasing economic inequity, and interreligious conflict by opening a space for dialogue and opportunities for building solidarity with the goal of legal and policy reforms to address these problems. The Essay begins by considering Muslim–Catholic engagement as a basis for understanding how Laudato si’ (and Muslim responses to it) explicitly attempts to provide opportunities for agreement. Next, it considers multiple approaches to understanding consensus and solidarity, and the dialogue strategies that might lead to meaningful cooperative action. Finally, it concludes by reflecting on the resulting implications for law, both as it relates to the environmental justice issues addressed by Laudato si’ and more broadly.