Laudato Si Week

One of the lessons we are learning from our present COVID crisis is that ‘everything is connected’. Pope Frances has named May 16 – 24, 2020 as Laudato Si Week, where a particular focus is on all of us joining in solidarity for a more just and sustainable future. It was five years ago that the Pope released his encyclical Laudato Si. The document is a call to action as we work together to address the present environmental crisis. “Only by radically reshaping our relationship with God, with our neighbours and with the natural world can we hope to tackle the threats facing our planet today”.
I share, Fr. James Martin’s “Top Ten Takeaways from Laudato Si”
  1. The spiritual perspective is now part of the discussion on the environment. Laudato Si addresses the environmental crisis from a religious point of view. The Pope comments that up until this document the dialogue has been framed primarily in political, scientific, and economic language. With this encyclical, the language of faith enters the discussion, particularly in its understanding of creation as ‘a holy and precious gift from God to be reverenced by all’.
  2. The poor are disproportionately affected by climate change. The encyclical references the many examples of how the effects of climate change are particularly hard felt by those living in the developing countries.
  3. Less is more. Pope Francis addresses that every technological, scientific, and/or industrial advancement must be considered in the context of how it will affect the environment and what will its impact be on human beings. Laudato Si addresses ‘extreme consumerism in which people are unable to resist what the market places before them, the earth is despoiled and billions are left impoverished.”
  4. Catholic social teaching now includes teaching on the environment. Pope Francis has added Laudato Si to the body of the Church’s social teaching. The Pope combines the riches of the church’s theology with the findings of experts in a variety of fields to reflect on this modern-day problem.
  5. Discussions around ecology can be grounded in the Bible and church tradition. Pope Francis in the document traces the theme of love for creation through both the Old and New Testaments. He reminds us ‘that God, in Jesus Christ, became not only human, but part of the natural world. Moreover, Jesus himself appreciated the natural world, as is evident in the Gospel passages in which he praises creation.”
  6. Everything is connected – including the economy. Pope Francis links all of us to creation “We are part of nature, included in it, and thus in constant interaction with it.” Our decisions, particularly about production and consumption, have an inevitable effect on the environment. “Profit, cannot be the sole criterion of our decisions.”
  7. Scientific research on the environment is to be praised and used. The Pope states in the encyclical that the church does not ‘presume to settle scientific questions’. He draws upon both church teaching and contemporary findings, particularly science, to help us reflect on and address the issue of climate change.
  8. Widespread indifference and selfishness worsen environmental problems. “One cannot care for the rest of nature if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings”.
  9. Global dialogue and solidarity are needed. The Pope identifies the need for global dialogue as there are ‘no uniform recipes. “What works in one region may not in another”.
  10. A change of heart is required. Pope Francis in the document calls us to awaken our hearts and move towards ‘ecological conversion’ where we see the intimate connection between God and all beings, and more readily listen to the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’.
“For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies.”