How Long Will it Take to Heed the Message of Laudato Si’ ?

July 24, 2019

By Katia Reeves and Marita Grudzen, Stewards of Our Common Home, Diocese of San Jose

It has been four years since Pope Francis published the encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. Facing the world’s environmental deterioration, the Holy Father addresses “every person living on this planet.” Pope Francis states: “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.” LS 13

Pope Francis lays out the message of Laudato Si’: “I will then attempt to get to the roots of the present situation, so as to consider not only the symptoms but also its deepest causes.” LS 15 The call to action is based on the Gospel of Creation.  “Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but also has the duty to protect the Earth and ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.” LS 67 “We fail to see the deepest roots of our present failures, which have to do with the direction, goals, meaning and social implications of technological and economic growth.” LS 109

We are facing public policies and mindsets, administrative and executive orders, which are weakening the corrective measures we once had.  If these actions continue, we face the prospect of severe and irreparable harm: mass migrations, premature deaths, longer storms, floods, and hurricanes, unlivable temperatures, rising seas, wars over scarce but necessary resources like water and food. “Unless citizens control political power – national, regional, and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment.” (LS 179)

The world’s youth, impatient with the lack of effective action from governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, have taken to world-wide strikes.  The Laudato Si’ Generation, organized for the fourth anniversary of the encyclical, rallies youth around the world demanding change.

On May 27 this year, Pope Francis addressed a Vatican climate change conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for finance ministers from around the world. He stated: “If the world is to win the fight against climate change, its leaders must stop profiting from fossil fuels that threaten the survival and well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.” He added: “We continue along old paths because we are trapped by our faulty accounting and by the corruption of vested interests. We still reckon as profit that which threatens our very survival.” Pope Francis also said to the finance ministers: “It is my prayerful hope that, as stewards of the world’s finances, you will agree upon a common plan that accords with climate science, the latest in clean energy engineering and, above all, the ethics of human dignity.

In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis inspires us: “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.” (LS 217)