Essay: Laudato Si and Us

May 11, 2021

The Laudato Si encyclical written by Pope Francis has been added to the core of Catholic social teaching for our Church. The time has critically arrived and we all must act in ways that help care for our Common Home.

Pope Francis explains the fragility of planet Earth to us. “As examples, I will point to the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology, the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress, the value proper to each creature, the human meaning of ecology, the need for forthright and honest debate, the serious responsibility of international and local policy, the throwaway culture and the proposal of a new lifestyle. These questions will not be dealt with once and for all, but reframed and enriched again and again.”

Scientists have asserted that Climate Change is real. Pope Francis understands the severity of this issue and has called us, the Church, to participate in any way to be stewards of God’s Creation. Pope Francis says, “Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in the coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and eco-systemic services such as agriculture, fishing, and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited. For example, changes in climate, to which animals and plants cannot adapt, lead them to migrate; this, in turn, affects the livelihood of the poor, who are then forced to leave their homes, with great uncertainty for their future and that of their children. There has been a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation. They are not recognized by international conventions as refugees; they bear the loss of the lives they have left behind, without enjoying any legal protection whatsoever. Sadly, there is widespread indifference to such suffering, which is even now taking place throughout our world. Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.”

Some countries, including the United States, have made considerable progress, yet there is much more to accomplish. We all need to be committed to Care of our Common Home. Some things we can do collectively are recycling more, using PBA-free water bottles at events which will help eliminate plastics. Also, trees can be planted in neighborhoods that will absorb the CO2 emissions and in turn give off oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Leaves pull in carbon dioxide and by the energy of the sun which converts chemical compounds, such as sugars, to feed the tree. Then the by-product, oxygen, is released.

It is time we forge together and heed the call of Pope Francis in Laudato Si to Care for our Common Home and become active stewards of God’s Creation-the Earth.

Please join in Laudato Si Week 2021 with the Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM) May 16-25. You can view the schedule and register here:

Jean Santopatre, Pastoral Associate for Ignatian Social Justice, Ignatian Young Adults And Family Ministry