Cardinal's Statement on Papal Encyclical, Laudto Si

June 18, 2015

The highly anticipated encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si, provides great clarity and directives for the ongoing conversation on responsible care for the environment. The heart of his message is the theme of "Integral Ecology" with its emphasis on the essential link between care of the environment (Natural Ecology) and care for the human person (Human Ecology). As the Pope states, our world is "not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental." Authentic care for the environment must therefore take into account a holistic concern for the well-being of the human person. This underscores the relationship we have with each other, with the world and with God who has gifted us with creation and calls us to be its responsible stewards.

Laudato Si is a teaching document that seeks to reinvigorate the ecological conversation across all borders. While the document does not propose to have all the answers to the ecological crises we face, the Pope invites all to an honest and open debate and hopes that everyone will work together toward creating a better world for future generations. He raises our awareness of the impact our actions in the present have on the future of our world. He asks: "What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?" The answer is up to us.

The Holy Father also proposes Saint Francis as a model for all people in the bid toward achieving a culture of stewardship, both within and outside the Church. Saint Francis demonstrates for all the relationship between inner peace, justice for others, care for the environment and obedience to God's will and design. Everyone is called to action, from the individual to the corporate world. We are called to be mindful of, and change, behaviors like the "throwaway culture" that are opposed to the health of the environment.

Laudato Si is a clarion call for solidarity among all people to work for the common good, which is inseparable from Human Ecology. The earth is our "common home" and we are called to work together to care for it and to do so with recognition and respect of the dignity of all human persons, especially the poor and the vulnerable.

Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter "Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home" is the new appeal addressed to "every person living on this planet" for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. Please visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' website for a link to the letter, along with additional resources.