"How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love." - BLESSED TERESA OF CALCUTTA

On Care For Our Common Home

“Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs. “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”

The Catholic Church brings a distinct perspective to the discussion of environmental questions, by lifting up the moral dimensions of these issues and the needs of the most vulnerable among us. This unique contribution is rooted in Catholic teaching calling us to care for creation and for “the least of these.” (Mt 25:40)

Laudato Si: On Care For Our Common Homecover1-188x300

On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si’) is the new appeal from Pope Francis addressed to “every person living on this planet” for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Pope Francis calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. This encyclical is written with both hope and resolve, looking to our common future with candor and humility.  Read the encyclical.

For more information visit the usccb.org

Featured Article: Serene Attentiveness to God’s Creation

(en español)

When we fall in love, become parents, or enter into any significant relationship, it is not uncommon to experience a shift in worldview that shapes our actions. 

Consider parents holding their first newborn son or daughter. While there is no instruction manual for all the possible circumstances they may encounter, their guiding framework is the loving, parental relationship with their child. With his encyclical Laudato si‘, Pope Francis invites us to understand more deeply our relationships with God, one another, and the rest of creation, and to live accordingly. “Everything is connected,” he reminds us (LS 91).Serene attentiveness to God's creation

God uses creation to bring us into loving relationship with himself, most notably through the sacraments. We experience this most powerfully in the Eucharist, the true body and blood of Christ, received under the appearance of bread and wine, where “all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation” (LS 236). God invites us to embrace creation on this deeper level through our worship of himself (LS 235). Our relationship with Christ—strengthened by receiving him worthily in Holy Communion—helps us understand our relationships with one another and with creation.

Pope Francis warns against placing ourselves “at the center,” thinking we don’t need God and lacking concern for other creatures (LS 122, 68-69). But he also rejects the view that “the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited” (LS 60). The Holy Father affirms, instead, that human beings possess “a particular dignity above other creatures” and share a distinct responsibility for the world entrusted to us (LS 119, 242). When any of our relationships are out of balance—with God, one another, or the rest of creation—all our relationships suffer.

We see evidence of this imbalance on a large scale today. Building upon the teaching of his predecessors, the Holy Father discusses in great detail the disrepair apparent in creation. Our distorted relationship with God has infected our relationship with the earth, evidenced by pollution, lack of clean water, toxic waste, and immense material waste. For example, “approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and ‘whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor'” (LS 50).

What the Holy Father often calls a “culture of waste” or a “throwaway culture” even goes so far as to see and treat human life as disposable. The elderly are marginalized, and the lives of persons with disabilities are deemed less worth living (LS 123). The fundamental truth that “the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development” is forgotten—leading to the destruction of unwanted babies in the womb and experimentation on embryonic children in the lab (LS 136, 123). Sometimes, even efforts to alleviate the suffering of certain populations lead to offenses against human life. Pope Francis warns, for example, against international pressure which makes the promotion of contraception, abortion, and other harmful practices a condition for economic aid.

At times, efforts seeking to protect the environment and other creatures disregard or even attack the particular dignity of human beings. Although we are called to care for creation, the Holy Father makes clear that this approach is not only inconsistent, it “compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment” (LS 91). Quoting Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Charity in Truth, Pope Francis explains further:

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (LS 120).

Pope Francis isn’t endorsing a secular environmentalism—he has a broader idea in mind—one that echoes the sentiments of another predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II. In his 1990 World Day of Peace message, the great saint reminded us that “no peaceful society can afford to neglect either respect for life or the fact that there is an integrity to creation” (7). He later addressed Catholics directly, reminding us of our “serious obligation to care for all of creation” (16).

If we are filled with the love of God, a culture of encounter and solidarity will begin to bloom. Pope Francis stresses, “We are speaking of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next” (LS 226). With this attitude of heart, we neither treat other humans as disposable, nor neglect to care for God’s creation at any level. Through a conversion of heart, repairing our relationships with God, one another, and all of creation, we can combat the many pollutants that poison our hearts and our world.

View Bulletin Insert (color): English / en español   

Excerpts from Laudato si’ (Care for Our Common Home) © 2015 and “Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace” © 1990, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Models used for illustrative purposes only. Copyright © 2016, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.

Children’s storybooks on caring for God’s creation

Green Street Park

This is a story about Philip, who loves his neighborhood.However, the local park, Green Street Park, is in need of improvement. Philip learns about how St. Francis of Assisi loved God’s world and cared for it. His teacher, Sr. Mary Clare, challenges Philip and his friends to act as St Francis would. With help from their parents, the children engage the mayor and the entire community in fixing their park.  This book is inspired by the work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Green Street Park cover art.

Drop by Drop

Sister Mary Jerome’s nephew Mike works for Catholic Relief Services. He visits Sister’s class and tells the story of a village in the country of Burkina Faso, in Africa. The story is about a girl named Sylvie, who is unable to attend school because it takes her several hours every day to collect the water her family needs. Her community becomes involved in a special Water Project, and the class of students in the U.S. decides to help other communities like Sylvie’s have access to water.

Drop by Drop cover art.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good
The bishops seek to contribute to a national dialogue on climate change by applying the wisdom of Catholic social teaching. The bishops also urge prudent action now on climate change to mitigate its effects on the poor and vulnerable. Read their statement.

ADVOCACY

For more information visit the usccb.org

Videos

LAUDATO SI’

Encyclical letter of the Holy Father Francis on care for our common home.

CST 101 | Care for God’s Creation

CST 101 is a collaborative 7-part video series presented by the USCCB and Catholic Relief Services on Catholic Social Teaching. Hear from Father James Martin, SJ, Dr. Carolyn Woo, and Cardinal Peter Turkson as they discuss Care for God’s Creation.

Click “CC” for Spanish subtitles.

Laudato Si – CRS Elementary Animated Brief

Created in collaboration with Caritas Catholic international humanitarian aid organizations throughout the world, this video provides a quick summary of Pope Francis’ letter Laudato Si for elementary aged students. The encyclical Laudato Si is addressed to every person on this planet and asks all of us to protect our common home, the earth. Pope Francis speaks openly about the devastating damage that has been done to the planet and how it most hurts the poor and vulnerable around the world. He asks us to remember that creation is “a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”.

Laudato Si – CRS High School Animated Brief

Created in collaboration with Caritas Catholic international humanitarian aid organizations throughout the world, this video provides a quick summary of Pope Francis’ letter Laudato Si for high school aged students. The encyclical Laudato Si is addressed to every person on this planet and asks all of us to protect our common home, the earth. Pope Francis speaks openly about the devastating damage that has been done to the planet and how it most hurts the poor and vulnerable around the world. He asks us to remember that creation is “a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”.

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