UNDERSTANDING LAUDATO SI

“Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God.” ~ Pope Francis

The reception to Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si (Praise be to You) has been quite varied, and the encyclical has become the topic of much discussion and debate. As Catholics, though, we are called to see past the politics and to discern between fact and hidden agendas in the media. We are called to draw upon our heritage of faith, tradition and social teaching as we strive to live out the Gospel in everyday life. In order to better understand Pope Francis’ invitation to discuss how we can care for God’s creation, we have put together a series of resources that will hopefully present a clearer picture of what Pope Francis is asking of us as members of the universal Church.

If you haven’t done so already, a good first step to understanding our role as stewards of God’s creation is to read the encyclical itself.

Father Gerry Kelly, of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, has recently given a presentation on Laudato Si, and he has graciously agreed to share a point-by-point summary of his presentation with us. Fr. Gerry is the spiritual leader for St. John Vianney’s Mission Trips to Eagle Pass, Texas. From the beginning of SJV’s mission trips to Eagle Pass in 2009, Fr. Gerry has led our fellow parishioners in mission. His exemplary kindness, selflessness and dedication to those we serve is truly an inspiration to us all.

Having witnessed the effects that climate change and environmental degradation have had on the poor and vulnerable, Catholic Relief Services has taken steps to raise awareness on these issues and to help those they serve to better prepare for these changes and devastating effects. Part of those steps include a brief video titled Care for God’s Creation, and a plethora of educational resources for people of all ages.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has also produced numerous articles and resources to assist faithful Catholics in their efforts to answer Pope Francis’ call to care for God’s creation. One of these documents, Resources for Taking Action, provides important questions that Catholics and all people of good will need to ask regarding how to care for our environment. It also provides suggestions on how to take action at the local and national level.

Bob Waldrop, of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City, sees Laudato Si as “a call to a better life, a world with more justice, peace, equity, and sustainability.” He also shares with us very practical, simple and everyday ways in which we can respond to Pope Francis’ call.

As a second step, you and your family can join thousands of Catholics across the nation and take the St. Francis Pledge to pray, assess, act, and advocate for God’s creation, especially for the poor and vulnerable. You can also pray the USCCB’s Prayer to Care for Our Common Home, which is based on Pope Francis’ encyclical.

Finally, if you still have questions or concerns regarding Pope Francis’ encyclical, please don’t forget that our very own Adult Formation and Parish Life Ministries’ First Thursday Breakfast will host The Main Course, featuring Laudato Si and presented by Fr. Nathaniel Haslam of the Legionaries of Christ on Thursday, October 1st, 2015.