By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who will come after us, to children who are growing up?”
In his one-minute video on March 3 when he announced Laudato Si’ Week, Pope Francis repeated the above question which he had asked in his 2015 encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for our common home.
He said: “I renew my urgent call to respond to the ecological crisis. The cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor cannot continue. Let’s take care of creation, a gift of our good Creator God. Let’s celebrate Laudato Si’ Week together.”
Let’s join the global campaign to participate in Laudato Si’ Week from Saturday, May 16 – Sunday 24 as we commemorate the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’, the first papal encyclical devoted entirely to the Church’s teaching on the environment and human ecology.
Let’s reread it and use the See-Judge-Act reflection/action process to determine what action each of us must take to reduce our environmental impact and to promote authentic integral ecology. This requires us to change our lifestyles and consumption.
Remember Pope Francis’ words after the Synod on the Amazon in October 2019: “A sound and sustainable ecology, one capable of bringing about change, will not develop unless people are changed, unless they are encouraged to opt for another style of life, one less greedy and more serene, more respectful and less anxious, more fraternal.”
At the centre of the concept of ‘right relationships’ is the interconnection between everything: “Saint Francis of Assisi shows us how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”
Chris Kerr says, Pope Francis “uses phrases like ‘family together,’ ‘shared inheritance,’ ‘relationship of mutuality,’ and ‘global problem with intertwined reality’ to relate this idea and also makes special note that the Laudato Si’ is a call to all people, not just Catholics. He also invites people into action in numerous ways, calling for a ‘new dialogue that includes everyone,’ a ‘summons to solidarity,’ ‘one world with a common plan,’ and a call to ‘community conversion’.”
During Holy Week, Archbishop Jason Gordon constantly called us to conversion and reminded us of the need to renew our relationship with God, our neighbour, ourselves, and Creation. Embedded in our Archdiocese’s Pastoral Plan is a concern that we should live in harmony with God’s creation.
Catholics are well placed to take action in light of the impact of climate change. As the executive director of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Tomás Insua, said recently: “Pope Francis is calling us to return to the core of who we are as Christians: people who love our neighbours as ourselves. The climate catastrophe is increasing the risk of hunger, sickness, and conflict for our most vulnerable neighbours. Every minute we spend warming the planet is a tragedy for the most vulnerable. Pope Francis is urgently calling us to act on the values of our faith, here and now.”
Social justice principles underpin Laudato Si’. He highlights the fact that if we are to promote human dignity/integral human development, that technology and the economy must serve the people and not the other way around.
He refers to the basic needs that each person has e.g. fresh water: “Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.”
His links between the poor, those on the margins, and the fragility of our planet are spot on. It is the poor and vulnerable who are disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental degradation.
Laudato Si’ is pro-all life, including the unborn, the differently abled, and victims of human trafficking. Note the way in which he addresses our throw-away, utilitarian culture, linking this to the way in which we pollute our environment: “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth” (paragraph 21).
He is deeply concerned about the loss of biodiversity; about how human activity affects our ecosystems; and the fact that “thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us.”
What can you do? Refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle; practise energy efficiency (see CCSJ’s website).
Let’s pray for God’s grace to protect our common home.
The life and words of Jesus and the teaching of his Church call us to serve those in need and to work actively for social and economic justice. As a community of believers, we know that our faith is tested by the quality of justice among us, that we can best measure our life together by how the poor and the vulnerable are treated. (8)
Economic Justice for All, US Catholic Bishops, 1986
CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee