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“We must respond together.”

Pope announces annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation

Pope Francis has always encouraged Catholics to identify their relationship with the world. A sense of stewardship can help us understand how we affect our fellow human beings in a shifting environment. In this insightful letter to leaders of his councils for Justice and Peace and Promotion of Christian Unity, the Pontiff urges us to embrace a new annual day of “prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.”

Continue reading “We must respond together.”

On Care for Our Common Home

More wisdom and counsel from the Pope’s Encyclical

The Pope’s groundbreaking Encyclical Laudato Si is an appeal for modern times, urging that  social and environmental damage are deeply connected. Here are some more excerpts from this fascinating document.

“Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”

“Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds.”

“We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that ‘less is more’. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment.”

“Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life.”

“Society is also enriched by a countless array of organizations which work to promote the common good and to defend the environment, whether natural or urban. Some, for example, show concern for a public place (a building, a fountain, an abandoned monument, a landscape, a square), and strive to protect, restore, improve or beautify it as something belonging to everyone … Thus, a community can break out of the indifference induced by consumerism.”

“Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.”

Our common home: Pope’s Encyclical

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.”

Cardinal Statement on “Laudato Si”

Following is the Cardinal’s statement on the Pope’s encyclical letter, “Laudato Si'”.  For full coverage please visit The Pilot website here and the Archdiocese of Boston website here.

Following the Cardinal’s statement we are providing a CatholicTV programming note regarding the encyclical.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

I welcome with joy and gratitude the encyclical letter, “Laudato Si'” (“Praise be to You”) on the urgent human, moral and religious issue of the environment. The first pope to take the name of Francis opens the letter with a phrase from St. Francis of Assisi whose spirit and vision is evident throughout the encyclical.

The Holy Father has given us a powerful, careful, prayerful analysis of two great ideas. The first idea, “Our Common Home,” the phrase he uses to describe the environment; the “home” for the human family is in severe danger and needs immediate protection and healing at the global, national and local levels of life. The second idea is that while the threatened state of the environment is a universal challenge affecting us all, those most in danger in the present and future are those already poor and vulnerable, within states and across the globe.

This constant linkage throughout the encyclical of the dual need to respect and protect “Our Common Home” and the need to respect and protect the dignity and lives of the poor may be regarded as the distinctive characteristic of this powerful message of Pope Francis. Both of these themes have been evident since the beginning of Pope Francis’s pontificate but this letter joins them with new depth and specificity.

“Laudato Si'” is permeated by a sense of human, moral and religious urgency, but the Pope recognizes the factual complexity of the joining of the environment and poverty. He states his case this way: “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (#139). In preparing the encyclical the Holy Father has consulted broadly in the scientific community, convinced, as he says, that the challenge facing “Our Common Home” provides a moment when religion and science can be joined in a crucial partnership.

The encyclical letter provides an overview of the specific issues which are well known in secular discussions of the environment: climate changes, shortages of safe clean water, the economic impact of choices made to address environmental threats and the need for wise and courageous political choices nationally and globally.

The letter is the voice of a pastor and teacher who leads a universal church across regions, cultures and nations. Pope Francis draws deeply on the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and the Catholic social tradition as he develops the religious and moral foundation of his message. He relies heavily on the teaching of his immediate predecessors in the papacy; beginning with John XXII though Paul VI and particularly St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Chapter Two of the encyclical “The Gospel of Creation” draws deeply and broadly from biblical and theological scholarship to stress the specific meaning the environmental challenge is for Catholics. But the letter in the Pope’s mind has a broader audience. He states his intention at the outset to enter into the diverse global dialogue already underway about the threats to “Our Common Home.” He offers this letter as a contribution to the global conversation. He acknowledges with gratitude the resources other religious communities and traditions have made to the conversation, and he explicitly states that while many participants addressing the environment do not hold a religious perspective, he invites consideration of what religious vision and tradition can offer.

When Pope Francis turns to the moral dimensions of the environment and poverty, his themes are solidly grounded in the Catholic tradition of social teaching. Familiar Catholic themes of social justice, the option for the poor and the demands of the common good permeate the letter. The Holy Father adds a distinctive note to these in his call for an “integral ecology” seeking to bring the traditional ideas to confront the authentically new challenges posed by the environment and poverty.

“Laudato Si'” is a teaching document to be sure; but it is also a call for action at every level of our common life. In the final two chapters of the letter, Pope Francis highlights some of the choices which face individuals, states and international institutions if the twin problems of protecting the environment and honoring the equal dignity of all are to be faced effectively.

This encyclical, appearing still early in a new century, is 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. I commend the letter to audiences inside and beyond the Catholic community and I pray for its reception and effective implementation.

CatholicTV Programming note:

CatholicTV is airing special coverage related to the release of Laudato Si.

The Ecology Encyclical: Care for Our Common Home

A panel discussion on the major themes and reactions to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (Praised Be To You). The CatholicTV Network and will air this presentation as follows (all times Eastern): Tuesday, June 23 at 11am, Tuesday, June 23 at 8pm, Wednesday, June 24 at 5am, Wednesday, June 24 at 1pm, Thursday, June 25 at 9:30pm, Friday, June 26 at 3:30pm

Creation – Starting June 22

In light of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si, an attempt to discover why we should care for the environment. The CatholicTV Network and will air Creation beginning June 22 at the following times (all times Eastern):

Mondays 6pm, Tuesdays at 8:30am, Wednesday at 2:30pm, Thursdays at 4:30am, Saturdays at 9:30pm

Please visit CatholicTV here for more information.

About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 289 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 42,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit