As faithful members of the Catholic Church, it is our responsibility to know and live by Church Teachings. To help remind us about different matters of the Church, we will post informative and helpful information here. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to speak with Fr. Stephan directly, after Mass or by making an appointment with him through the Parish Office – 733-1477.
Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home, the much anticipated encyclical of Pope Francis on the environment, was released to the world on June 18, 2015. People all over the world eagerly awaited the Pope’s call to save God’s creation and protect the poor (who are those most harmed by ecological destruction). News coverage was extensive and it generated much interest among people of many faiths around the world. You can find an introduction to the encyclical in a 6½ minute video that features Catholic voices, online at: www.valeclimateconnections.org/2015//06/video-outlines-background-for-pope-francis-papal-encyclical, or go to Yale Climate Connections and search “encyclical background”.
In Pope Francis’s encyclical on caring for creation, the phrase “praised be” is taken from a famous creation canticle by St. Francis of Assisi as he thanked God for the beauty of creation. At the core of Pope Francis’s message is the idea of “integral ecology,” – that how we related to one another, especially the poor, and how we relate to the environment are intimately connected. For more on the encyclical, click here: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life/and/dignity/environment/index.cfm
Pope Francis’s encyclical, highlights several basic teachings. First, the destruction of God’s creation and specifically climate change is a moral issue. Second, there is an integral connection between our destruction of “Mother Earth” and the suffering of the poor, especially those in developing countries. Finally, immediate actions are required by individuals who must change their lives, and by the community of nations. Father James Martin, S.J. explores these teachings in a four-minute video: www.youtube.com/watch?y=a_lqFTYLc_4
Pope Francis preaches “the Gospel of Creation” drawing on the words of the Hebrew prophets, saints like Francis of Assisi and Therese of Lisieux, the popes who preceded him, and of Jesus himself. Let us pray this Gospel of Creation in Francis’s own words: “Son of God, Jesus . . . You are alive in every creature in your risen glory. Praise be to you!” And prayerfully consider signing the “St. Francis Pledge” of the Catholic Climate Covenant to act together with other Catholics in honor of St. Francis. Click here to access the “Catholic Climate Covenant”.
Pope Francis tells us that human beings, even Christians like us, are turning our common home into a “pile of filth”. We can help to atone for this destruction by always taking re-usable bags with us to the grocery store, not buying water in plastic bottles, never again throwing litter onto the ground and thinking of new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. For more ideas, refer to “What to Do? The Pope’s Practical Tips.”
Pope Francis highlights overconsumption and excessive economic development as the primary causes of the destruction of our common home. With him, let us pray to “discover the worth in each thing” and to embody that discovery by buying less and recycling/repurposing our possessions when we no longer need them.
Pope Francis highlights “integral ecology” as the basis of the conversion we are called to in order to save our common home from destruction. “Integral ecology” is the profound, fundamental interconnection between God, human beings, and all the rest of creation. With Pope Francis, we pray: “Triune God . . . Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.” As we reflect on our relationship to life-giving water, the air we breathe, and the ground we walk on, let us think of actions that we can take locally to protect the air, water and land for the generations to come. We might consider supporting legislative bills of our municipality, county or state that will serve to do this.
Pope Francis challenges us to make integral ecology and care for the poor, central Christian spirituality and religious education. To deepen your own understanding of these crucial matters as the understanding of your brothers and sisters, click here for the “USCCB Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home Discussion Guide”. Consider using this guide in meetings of your parish ministries or forming a group to study the Pope’s encyclical using this guide.
Central to Pope Francis’s environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, is his call for a universal “culture of encounter” or dialogue. Dialogue between science and religion, between the market economy and true human fulfillment, between the overdeveloped North and suffering communities in the South, is essential to “caring for our common home.” Let us pray for conversion to such a dialogical spirituality, even as we live it out by buying less and demanding limits to greenhouse gas emissions from our government.
In his recent creation care encyclical, Pope Francis extends the pioneering work of the Second Vatican Council by drawing on the wisdom of other world religious leaders, for example, the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. May Catholics everywhere join with members of the other world religious to demand an end to the destruction of our common home and of our impoverished brothers and sisters. Pope Francis’ encyclical was well received by leaders and followers of other faiths. Find out if there are faith groups in your neighborhood or town with whom you might collaborate on a common project to better the local environment with a Care of Creation Committee. Watch an inspiring 21-minute video, #LightTheWay, on YouTube on the interfaith vigil in New York City organized to thank Pope Francis for Laudato Si’ and his challenge to world leaders, and to wish him well in addressing the United Nations on September 25, 2015.
Since the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, it’s very difficult to pretend that climate change is merely a scientific – or political – matter. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis makes clear that climate change is MORAL issue, one which the people of the world MUST attend to immediately. For suggestions on how you can respond to the pope’s moral call to the world, Google: “What to Do? The Pope’s Practical Tips.”
To some people, Pope Francis’s recent encyclical on caring for the earth and the poor seemed like a bolt out of the blue. But it’s actually part of a long tradition of papal social encyclicals dating back at least to Pope Leo XIII’s 1891 encyclical, “On the Condition of Labor.” And like Pope Leo, Pope Francis criticizes the economic order for the harm it does to ordinary people, as well as to the earth on which all God’s creatures depend. To learn more about the Catholic social encyclical tradition, see the USCCB Blog: social encyclical primer.
A remarkable aspect of Pope Francis’s recent climate-care encyclical, Laudato Si’ is that it draws on documents written by eighteen different bishops’ conferences around the world, most of the in Asia, Africa and Latin America. By quoting leaders of communities that are suffering the most from climate change and not just writing about them, Pope Francis embodies the dialogical spirituality, the “integral ecology,” he calls for in his encyclical.
The encyclical Laudato Si’ calls for immediate and difficult changes in each of us, our country and the nations of the world, including changes in our personal lifestyles, in business practices and national policies. It is a message we don’t always want to hear or heed. Pope Francis asks each of us and all of us to make some sacrifices for a better, more compassionate world. Let us be thankful for his leadership and courage, and pray for a “conversion of heart” in ourselves and in our national and world leaders, that we and they will be open to his message and willing to take the needed steps to protect our common home.
Pope Francis refers multiple times, not only to the destruction of the earth and the poor, but also to the destruction of local, indigenous cultures whose insights are essential for planetary survival. May we join Pope Francis’ call for the protection of present-day indigenous communities from the misuse of the land, and appropriation of mineral and water rights which too often lead to the destruction of their communities, culture, and the ecological wisdom we desperately need.
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