BY CHRIS KERR | June 18, 2015
Pope Francis’s encyclical entitled Laudato Si: Care for Our Common Home brings forth climate change as a moral issue that requires our collective response to avoid further suffering, especially for those already marginalized by its effects. It is truly an invitation to be in solidarity with the Earth, but more important with those marginalized by the effects of climate change and harm to the environment. While there is much to unpack, I wanted to offer three quick ideas that stuck with me.
We Are in This Together
The emphasis on the subtheme of “Care for Our Common Home” is articulated in so many ways. Francis uses phrases like “family together,” “shared inheritance,” “relationship of mutuality,” and “global problem with intertwined reality” to relate this idea and also makes special note that the Laudato Si is a call to all people, not just Catholics. He also invites people into action in numerous ways, calling for a “new dialogue that includes everyone,” a “summons to solidarity,” “one world with a common plan,” and a call to “community conversion.”
A Call to the Youth
Francis makes some intentional calls to young people throughout the document. First, early in the document he notes that it is intended not just as an invitation to Catholics but to all people across the globe. This will resonate with millennials, whom studies have shown are becoming less and less likely to affiliate with an established religion, even if they themselves identify as Catholic.
He emphasizes a respect for ”diversity of culture,” a concept that young people see as the standard operating procedure in the world today. He also offers some challenging messages to this generation: questioning the overwhelming role of technology in life and the impacts it has on relationship building, and critiquing the overarching individualism that exists in society today, often associated with younger demographics.
In addition, Francis notes the impact of our choices in caring for creation will have on future generations. In other words, our actions today will influence the reality of young people tomorrow. (See also: Kerry Weber’s article in America Magazine entitled Why Lautado Si is the perfect encyclical for Millenials)
Making It Practical
Pope Francis offers a myriad of practical examples, some more direct than others, of ways that individuals as well as institutions and even business can respond to what he describes as an “urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution.” These ideas range from recycling and praising God through mealtime prayers to the enforcement of environmental legislation and significant incorporation of diverse voices (including the marginalized) in business leaders’ decisions. The average person can easily pick out at least one way they can put this document into action right now. (See also: Catholic News Service article entitled What to do?: The Pope’s Practical Tips for Helping the Environment)
You can find resources on how to begin responding to Pope Francis’s encyclical here.
Chris joined the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) as executive director in 2011. He has over fifteen years of experience in social justice advocacy and leadership in Catholic education and ministry. Prior to ISN he served in multiple roles at John Carroll University, including coordinating international immersion experience and social justice education programming as an inaugural co-director of John Carroll’s Arrupe Scholars Program for Social Action. Prior to his time at John Carroll he served as a teacher and administrator at the elementary and secondary levels in Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Chris speaks regularly at campuses and parishes about social justice education and advocacy, Jesuit mission, and a broad range of social justice issues. He currently serves on the board of directors for Christians for Peace in El Salvador (CRISPAZ). Chris earned a B.A. and M.A. from John Carroll University in University Heights, Ohio. He and his family reside in Shaker Heights, Ohio.