Our parish study of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’s letter on care for the Earth, has reached its halfway point. We have two groups meeting, on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. If you would like to read or download the pope’s letter, you can do so on the Vatican website here (+).
In our first session, we began with prayer: St. Francis’s “Canticle of the Creatures.” Then, as an introduction, we watched a brief video from Sr. Sallie Latkovich, CSJ, of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The video places Laudato Si’ in the context of the tradition of Catholic social teaching.
We then began reading Bill Huebsch’s summary reading guide to the letter, stopping from time to time to consult the pope’s original text, and to discuss the Pope Francis’s ideas and our own experiences and reflections.
Pope Francis addresses the letter to “every living person on the planet.” He summarizes the strong words of his predecessors, Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, on the need to change our behavior and social structures to respond to threats to our environment. And he cites the words of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (of the Orthodox churches) who has written: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins.” (8) [Note: numbers cited in parentheses are the paragraph numbers of Laudato Si’.]
The pope recalls the life of St. Francis who, during the Middle Ages, identified with the poor and praised God for the elements of nature, which he spoke of as our sisters and brothers. Pope Francis writes: “If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs.” (11)
“The urgent challenge to protect our common home,” Pope Francis writes, “includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” (13)
We watched another CTU video, this one from Fr. Stephan Bevans, SVD, on how the pope’s call to care for the earth fits with his previous challenge for Catholics to pursue the mission of the Church.
Check this blog in the future for more information on Laudato Si' and on our study!