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Environment

Where all life can flourish

One of the main themes of Catholic Social Teaching is Care for Creation. Concern for the environment, God’s gift of the created world, has become a significant social justice issue during the last 50 years. Since Pope Paul VI, all popes have spoken out about environmental degradation. Pope Francis has declared he is writing an encyclical dedicated to the environmental crisis, and he has been clear in reminding us that people of faith are called to be actively involved in promoting environmental justice.

PRAYER: Creator God, we ask for the grace to work together for an environment that is safe, that is green and growing, that will shelter all in justice and peace. Help us to see that, in working together, we will be able to transform this earth, this sacred garden, this generous gift. On this Earth Day, we envision a planet where all life can flourish, so we will raise our voices in community and solidarity: May our leaders hear us, O Lord, as you hear our cries. Amen.

Our common home

The long-anticipated Encyclical released this month by the Holy Father is hardly light reading. Laudato Si’ (“Praise be to you”) of the Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home contains more than 40,000 words, quotes from Popes, saints, and biblical passages, and the guidance of an energized Pontiff. Many of his predecessors have cautioned that human interference of a fragile planet is a major moral issue, but the Encyclical allows Pope Francis to place the global degradation of the poor and the global degradation of the environment in one cart. Cardinal Seán O’Malley describes the Encyclical as “designed to have a long shelf-life. The problems it analyzes are both urgent and complex; the responses to these must begin now, but will take time to come to fruition.” Parishioners are invited to read some excerpts from this historic document here, and examine the Encyclical at the Vatican web site.

“The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement.”

“Authentic human development has a moral character.”

“… integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human.”

“Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”

“We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.”

“Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat [global] warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

“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 ecosystemic 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.“

“Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained.“

“Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true ‘ecological debt’ exists … connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time.“

“…our common home is falling into serious disrepair.”