On the Care of the Common Home

The Holy See recently published Pope Francis’ highly anticipated encyclical, Laudato Si’: On the Care of the Common Home. The 184-page document addresses the contentious subject of climate change in the light of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The title Laudato Si’, which means “Praise be to you”, is taken from the Canticle of the Sun composed by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1224.

Now, this earth, mistreated and abused, is lamenting, and its groans join those of all the forsaken of the world. Pope Francis invites us to listen to them, urging each and every one – individuals, families, local communities, nations and the international community – to an “ecological conversion”. We are invited to “change direction” by taking on the beauty and responsibility of the task of “caring for our common home”. At the same time, Pope Francis recognizes that “there is a growing sensitivity to the environment and the need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet”. A ray of hope flows through the entire Encyclical, which gives a clear message of hope. “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home”. “Men and women are still capable of intervening positively”. “All is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start”.

The Pope invites everyone to the heart of ecological conversion. The roots of the cultural crisis are deep, and it is not easy to reshape habits and behavior. Education and training are the key challenges: “change is impossible without motivation and a process of education”. All educational sectors are involved, primarily “at school, in families, in the media, in catechesis and elsewhere”.

The importance of environmental education cannot be underestimated. It is able to affect actions and daily habits, the reduction of water consumption, the sorting of waste up and even “turning off unnecessary lights”: “An integral ecology is also made up of simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness”. By developing our individual, God-given capacities, an ecological conversion can inspire us to greater creativity and enthusiasm”.

Fr. Jilson George, CMI