On June 18, 2015 the new encyclical from Pope Francis was released. This encyclical is called “Laudato Si”, which literally means “Be praised or Be praised to you.” In this encyclical Pope Francis addresses the care of our common home “the Earth.” It talks about the risks we need to take to save our human race and our planet. One cannot separate ecology from economies, or economies from ethics, or ethics from politics, “everything is connected”, Pope Francis writes at several points in the encyclical. He also asks a main question to all of us is: What kind of a world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are growing up?
Each and every one of us need to understand and act upon the fact that creation is a common good belonging to all and meant for all. We are all equally responsible for caring for it as a whole. Pope Francis expresses that “the careless habits of mind and heart that allow us to pollute and waste also allows us to treat other human beings as disposable.” “These problems are closely linked to a throw away culture and we should be particularly annoyed at the enormous inequality in our midst.”
“A true ecology approach,” Pope Francis writes, “always becomes a social approach that must integrate questions of justice in debates of the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” These powerful words echo God’s call for justice and love. It is a call repeated over and over throughout scripture in the Old Testament in the prophets; and in the New Testament in the witness of the disciples and most profoundly by Jesus himself. Our call for justice is rooted in this heritage that has been exclaimed in many Church documents like this encyclical today. Catechesis helps us understand who we are as Catholics, what we do and to whom we belong. A catechist has the responsibility to help those he/she catechizes become familiar with the principles of justice and peace.
One particularly serious problem is the quality of water available to the poor. Many people in the world are suffering for shortage or lack of clean water. In California, we all experiencing a serious drought and this should be a concern for each of us. The most important thing is to recognize the urgency of the problem, and to accept that the only way to solve it is “by our decisive action, here and now.” This is an opportunity to do a regular examination of conscience and reflect seriously on how each lives in communion with God, others, oneself, and nature. By doing this, we are also teaching our children and youth to take responsibility for all these precious and necessary resources. As Catholics, our faith must move us to care for nature and the most vulnerable.
“Pope Francis ends his encyclical by saying let sing as we go remembering that “everything is connected.” May our struggles and our concern for the planet never take away the joy of our hope.”
Questions for reflection:
What is my connection to creation and how am I treating it? In what specific ways can I save natural resources? How am I teaching my children/grandchildren to treat all elements of creation with respect? As a catechist, do I address the care for creation in my catechetical lessons?