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The Letter: A Message for Our Earth

Courtesy of Lorenzo Magistrato
/
PBS
Activists featured in “The Letter: A Message for Our Earth” at Terza Loggia inside the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City

Premieres Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV + Sunday, Dec. 25 at 8 p.m. on KPBS 2 / PBS Video app

Pope Francis wrote a pastoral letter called Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be”), a reflection on the state of the planet that confronted the looming calamity of human impact on the Earth and all life on it. One of the most ambitious and revolutionary papal statements in history, it was directed not just to Catholics, but to every single person in the world.

The letter sparked both controversy and praise as the Pope took a passionate stance on the issue of climate change, stressing how those whose voices are not heard — the poor and the disenfranchised — are suffering the most devastating effects of the crisis.

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“The Letter: A Message for Our Earth” follows the ramifications of the Pope’s groundbreaking letter and takes viewers around the world to see firsthand how climate change is affecting the daily lives of people.

The Letter: A Message For Our Earth: Trailer

With extraordinary access to Pope Francis — credited with doing more to fight the climate emergency than any other leader on the planet — “The Letter” tells the stories of people from around the globe whose everyday lives have been profoundly impacted 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, youth and nature.

The Voice of the Youth

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, 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 percent of marine life.

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The Voice of Wildlife

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 film, he speaks with the scientists and activists about his hopes for the future.

“The cry of freedom has to come from a new generation,” he 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.”

Courtesy of Lorenzo Magistrato
/
PBS
Greg Asner and Chief Dadá at Salla Reggia inside the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City

Watch On Your Schedule:

“The Letter: A Message for Our Earth” will be available to stream on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.

Credits:

Produced in full collaboration with the Laudato Si’ Movement and the Vatican. Written and directed by Nicolas Brown ("H2O: The Molecule That Made Us"; "The Serengeti Rules"; "Human Planet"), produced by Ellen Windemuth ("My Octopus Teacher") and executive produced by Off The Fence’s CEO Bo Stehmeier.