Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary

LAUDATO SI’: On The Care Of Our Common Home

Pope Francis’ new encyclical titled “Laudato Si” focuses on the connection between care of the natural world and justice for the poorest and most vulnerable people. Only by radically reshaping our relationships with God, with our neighbors and with the natural world, he says, can we hope to tackle the threats facing our planet today.

At the heart of the Pope’s reflections is the question: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”. The answers call for profound changes to political, economic, cultural and social systems, as well as to our individual lifestyles.

Our relationship with “our common home” is squarely a matter of moral responsibility he says, and science is a proper tool by which we can hear the cry of the earth.  Behavioral lifestyle changes that must include dialogue with each other and education are the keys that can “help us to escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us”.

In a sense the Pope’s views can be thought of as an extension of Mark 12:31 so as to include “and generations that follow” in the two greatest commandments … “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.”’  And “‘You shall love your neighbor and generations that follow as yourself.’

A good Katie Couric news video covering the encyclical can be seen by clicking here.

Chapter 1 of the encyclical sets out six of the most serious challenges facing “our common home”

Chapter 2. In “The Gospel of Creation”, Francis examines the Old and New Testaments to show how human life is grounded in our relationships with God, with our neighbors and with the created world. We must acknowledge our sins when we break these relationships and realize our “tremendous responsibility” towards all of God’s creation

Chapter 3 explores the root causes of these growing crises including:

Chapter 4.  Integral Ecology: Chapter 4 explores this new paradigm of justice which means “the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work-related and urban contexts”, while solutions must be based on “a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters”

Chapter 5, entitled ‘Lines of Approach and Action’ stresses the need for “honest and open debate, so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good”. The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics, but it can promote dialogue on global and local governance, transparent decision-making, sustainable use of natural resources, as well as engaging in respectful dialogue with other people of faith and with the scientific world.

Chapter 6.  Education: Chapter 6 urges schools, families, the media and the churches to help reshape habits and behavior. Overcoming individualism, while changing our lifestyles and consumer choices, can bring much “pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power” causing significant changes in society.  Chapter 6 also highlights St Francis of Assisi as the model of “a more passionate concern for the protection of our world”, characterized by gratitude and generosity, creativity and enthusiasm.

Finally, In Spirituality and  two concluding prayers the Pope shows how faith in God can shape and inspire our care for the environment. The Sacraments, the Trinity, the model of the Holy Family and our hope for eternal life can teach, motivate and strengthen us to protect the natural world that God has given us.

Visit the following links to learn more about Laudato Si’ …

Interfaith Power & Light/Catholic Climate Covenant: Encyclical Action Kit

The National Catholic Reporter:  Francis’ encyclical an urgent call

The New York Times: Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change

Toronto, The GLOBE AND MAIL: With climate encyclical, the Pope has knocked one out of St. Peter’s