“Laudato Si’:” Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter On Care for Our Common Home
|Caring for creation is nothing new for Christians. Looking back to the very origins of our faith in the book of Genesis, we see that we are responsible for being good stewards of the natural world in order to protect God’s creation and ensure that the gifts of creation benefit all and serve future generations.
As a society, we have not always lived up to these responsibilities. Pope Francis’ new encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” serves, therefore, as a powerful reminder for Christians and all who share these values to examine the threats posed to creation today and to engage in concrete action to build a better world.
Part of the change must come from examining our daily lives. Pope Francis raises some important questions: Are we needlessly wasting the gifts of creation? Have we been tempted by consumerism? Have we forgotten those living on the margins as we engage in our everyday activities?
In addition we must look toward the common good, toward building a more just society together. This is not the time for ideological or partisan bickering. Pope Francis calls us to work together to ensure that creation is protected. The challenge is to foster sustainable development that reflects respect for creation and a belief in the life and dignity of every person. In the forefront of our minds always must be the influence our actions and our inactions have on the poor and vulnerable, those living on the peripheries.
While some of the most visible environmental threats to humanity take place in other locations, we also can see them here in our own community. One of the biggest threats to the Mahoning Valley comes from high concentrations of ground-level ozone on hot days during the summer. According to the Mahoning-Trumbull Air Pollution Control Agency, pollutants in the air react with sunlight and produce dangerous quantities of ozone. These high levels of ozone lead to an increase in breathing problems for those who suffer from asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions. By reducing air pollution through conservation and small sacrifices, we can make the air breathable for all, including young children and the elderly.
Another example in our extended neighborhood can be found in Toledo, where last year residents’ drinking water was contaminated by toxic algae from Lake Erie caused by farm run-off, warmer temperatures and an increase in high-intensity rainstorms.
In “Laudato Si’,” the Holy Father appeals to us to come together as a community and to act for the community to confront these challenges and make changes that will benefit the common good. Care for creation and care for others are not mutually exclusive, but deeply interrelated, the pope writes. When we lose respect for the gifts of creation, we too easily begin to treat other humans as though they too are disposable, which is the fundamental problem with the appalling behavior of Planned Parenthood. This is the “throwaway culture” that Pope Francis has boldly and persistently called on us to reject.
“Laudato Si'” invites us to reject this throwaway culture in our personal lives, local communities, global communities, businesses, and governments. Instead, let us commit ourselves to the poor and vulnerable. Let us commit ourselves to clean air and clean drinking water for all human beings in every country. Let us protect the natural world so that this generation and those that follow can enjoy the fruits of God’s creation.
Used with permission, the original blog can be found at the following link.