“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord.” These are the words that open Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology and care for God’s creation. These words, quoting St. Francis of Assisi’s beautiful canticle, remind us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.
Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’ was released in June 2015. Five years later, in 2020, Pope Francis invited all Catholics and people of good will to celebrate its fifth anniversary by protecting families and future generations through action to care for our common home.
Laudato Si’ Week 2021, to be held May 16-24, will be the crowning event of the Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year, and a celebration of the great progress the whole Church has made on its journey to ecological conversion. Laudato Si’ Week 2021 will also be a time to reflect on what the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us and prepare for the future with hope.
Here are themes that Pope Francis highlighted in Laudato Si’ which require our urgent response today.
- A Moral and Spiritual Challenge. The ecological crisis, Pope Francis writes, is a summons to profound interior conversion—to renew our relationships with God, one another, and the created world.
- Care for God’s Creation. God created the world and entrusted it to us as a gift. Now we have the responsibility to care for and protect it and all people, who are part of creation. Protecting human dignity is strongly linked to care for creation.
- We are All Connected. We are connected to the rest of the human family, to the created world, and to those who will come after us in future generations.
- Impact on the Poor. People in poverty have contributed least to climate change, yet they are disproportionately impacted by it. As a result of excessive use of natural resource by wealthy nations, those who are poor experience pollution, lack of access to clean water, hunger, and more.
- Called to Solidarity. We are one human family and have a shared responsibility for others and for creation. Wealthy countries have a responsibility to reduce consumption of non-renewal resources and should help poorer nations develop in sustainable ways.
- Technological and economic development must serve human beings and enhance human dignity, instead of creating an economy of exclusion, so that all people have access to what is needed for authentic human development.
- Supporting Life, Protecting Creation. Concern for nature is incompatible with failure to protect vulnerable human beings, such as unborn children, people with disabilities, or victims of human trafficking.
- A Time to Act. Pope Francis calls for a change in lifestyle and consumption. We can make important changes as individuals, families, and communities, and as civil and political leaders.
- Hope and Joy. “Injustice is not invincible” (no. 74) and we act knowing that we seek to live out God’s vision of renewed relationships with God, ourselves, one another, and creation.
Source: USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development
A Prayer for our Earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
-Pope Francis, Laudato Si’
For more information:
The Global Catholic Climate Movement: Laudato Si’ Week 2021
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops webpage on Environment and Environmental Justice: www.usccb.org/environment
Catholic Climate Covenant: www.catholicclimatecovenant.org