Pope Francis' green message for all the Earth

June 18, 2015 (Kingston, Ontario) – Today marks an historic moment in the human effort to care for the planet. Pope Francis has just presented his much-anticipated encyclical on the environment Laudato si, On the care of our common home.

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The Pope is releasing the encyclical widely in a strategic manner that we applaud. Laudato si has been timed to motivate decision makers in the run-up to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris in late November. The goal of the UN conference is a binding agreement reducing greenhouse gases.  

Says Archbishop Brendan O'Brien of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston: "Pope Francis calls us to go beyond simply technical solutions to embrace a moral conversion which takes into account environmental, human and social realities." 

Sr. Shirley Morris of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul explains: "Catholic social teachings encourage us to respond to the needs of the times. Today’s needs are clear. We must fulfill our responsibility as good stewards of creation. We need to care for our world." Her colleague Bridget Doherty concurs: "One of the Pope’s consistent messages has been that we can’t steal resources from future generations."

The encyclical addresses the need to care for the environment within a wide context that brings in concern about the poverty of developing nations, the waste and consumption of developed nations, the special claims of indigenous peoples, the effects of mining -- even carbon credits. He keeps a global view, bringing together the effects of actions on the Global South.

Writes Pope Francis: “In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future.

The encyclical is directed to the world’s billion Catholics, all Christians and people of all the world’s traditions.  According to Pope Francis, "This encyclical is offered to everyone. Let us pray that everyone can receive its message and grow in responsibility toward the common home that God has given us."

Emphasizing his aim to reach all citizens of the world the Pope has invited three speakers to his news conference: a Catholic Cardinal, a Greek Orthodox theologian and a scientist.

John Duggan, a member of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston and the Anglican Diocese of Ontario points out that the first words of the title, Laudato si, mean "Blessed be" and are drawn from the Canticle of the Sun of Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the environment from whom the pope took his name.

"The Justice and Peace Commission strongly encourages study of Laudato si, a document many hold will have a significant long-term impact on the choices we make for the future of the earth," he says.

Speaking on behalf of Action Partnership, a local multi-faith climate change group, Rev. Steve Hoffard, pastor at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, remarks that, "We (non-Catholics) welcome this initiative and opportunity to work with others of all faiths recognizing our common concern and shared commitment to address climate change."

Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical asks us to think not only of the human family but of all of natural creation.

For comment:

  • For ecology comment: Bridget Doherty, Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul 613-985-3681 bridget.doherty@providence.ca
  • For theological comment: John Duggan, Justice and Peace Commission tel.: 613-779-6542 dugganchap@gmail.com 
  • Action Partnership: Many Faiths One Creation: Rev. Steve Hoffard, pastor at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church tel.: 613-542-7134  steve.hoffard@gmail.com


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