Why an encyclical on ecology?
Originally published on BishopKevinFarrell.org
Much has been written and broadcast by the media concerning Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on ecology (Laudato Si – Blessed are You). Since there are likely to be many spins on the document by various individuals and groups, I think it is important to present some points to help Catholics and others keep the encyclical in perspective.
Pope Francis is speaking as a pastor addressing a moral issue, restating a long held Catholic teaching on care for God’s creation and how it affects the health and very lives of people, particularly the poor and vulnerable. The encyclical is a pastoral document not a political statement.
Issues concerning ecology are both immediate and long term. The quality of life of millions of people is already being diminished as the result of the present state of the world’s ecology. Future generations will suffer even more if the situation is not addressed promptly.
“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will,” the Holy Father told a General Audience in May, “or, even less, is it the property of only a few. Creation is a gift. It is a wonderful gift that God has given us so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.”
It is the obligation of the Church to speak prophetically to the halls of power when it perceives an imminent threat to ecology and its impact on countless numbers of people. That is the purpose of the upcoming encyclical of Pope Francis.
“Whoever has ears, ought to hear.” (Matt. 11:15)
VIDEO: Seven questions about the ecology encyclical you were afraid to ask
From RomeReports.com: When Pope Francis announced that his upcoming encyclical would focus on ecology, it immediately became one of the most talked about stories in the world. Not a word has been published, yet the encyclical has already received praise and criticism. Here are answers to some key questions about the encyclical.
Resources on Catholic teaching on the Environment
Celebrate and honor God's gift of creation and the Church's teaching on the environment with the following new resources from the USCCB:
Pope Francis Themes on Ecology
Pope Francis is likely to speak about something called "integral ecology." This idea tells us that the way we relate with one another and how we relate to the environment are intimately connected. Integral ecology means that "natural ecology"—the environment, our natural resources, the precious gift of Creation—is decidedly linked to "human ecology"—how we respect life, treat one another, regard the poor, structure our economic decisions and policy, mold and shape our society.
Caring for God's Creation: Resources for Liturgy, Preaching, and Taking Action
In parishes, diocese and other Catholic organizations, we encourage efforts to bring about discussion on issues affecting the environment (climate change, consumption, pollution, stewardship of the land) that is civil and constructive, that invokes the virtue of prudence in seeking solutions, and that is more responsive to the needs of the poor, both here in the United States and abroad.
Below are individual resources from Caring for God's Creation: Resources for Liturgy, Preaching, and Taking Action
Catholic Climate Covenant
The Catholic Climate Covenant is the Catholic Church's voice on climate change, bringing Catholic people and institutions together to care for the people God loves and to live justly on God's Earth. Check out their new website!
Catholicism and the Challenge of Ecology
Ahead of the publication of Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, experts reflect on the history and significance of the church's role in promoting the stewardship of creation. (Catholic News Service video)
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.
Background on Global Climate Change
Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship
Reflection by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, October 20, 2014