By Tony Magliano
Are you ready for Laudato Si’ Week? Is your parish ready?
Perhaps you are wondering, “What is Laudato Si’ Week?” And for that matter, what does Laudato Si’ mean?
Laudato Si’ is medieval Italian for “Praise be to you.” It is a quote from St. Francis of Assisi’s beautiful Canticle of the Creatures: “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.”
Pope Francis, who took his papal name from St. Francis, continues to be deeply inspired by this patron saint of ecology. So much so, that in 2015 he wrote the first ever environmental encyclical letter titled “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”
“St. Francis of Assisi reminds us,” writes the pope, “that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. …
“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”
Pope Francis explains, “Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
The Holy Father then weighs in on climate change. Ignoring the weak scientific claims of those who deny the climate is changing and that the earth is warming – due principally to human pollution. He writes, “A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”
Indeed, the scientific consensus is very solid. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.” (http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/).
“The problem is dangerously aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels” – that is coal, oil, and gas.
The pope urgently calls for global conversion from the use of these fossil fuels to “clean renewable energy” – wind, solar and geothermal (see: https://bit.ly/45d6lxO).
Francis astutely observes that living comfortable lifestyles far removed from the poor, often leads to a “numbing of conscience” and to a cold impersonal analysis. “At times this attitude exists side by side with a ‘green rhetoric.’
“Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
Observing the connection between the degradation of the environment and war Francis writes, “It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars.”
The earth and humanity are in trouble. The dangers of climate change and accompanying global warming are nothing to take lightly. The scientific evidence is overwhelming. We don’t have much time left to wake up (see: https://bit.ly/3MH2i5y and https://bit.ly/42Svqga).
Therefore, this all makes Laudato Si’ Week a week that should not be ignored. Let’s commit to celebrating it as soon as possible.
Ways to Celebrate Laudato Si’
- Watch the moving film featuring Pope Francis called “The Letter: A message for our Earth.”Consider making it a parish event.
- Share Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ with your parish priest and ask him to preach on it
- Pray with the Laudato Si’ Prayer Book
- Become a Laudato Si’ animator
- And read the encyclical. It will challenge and inspire you
Tony Magliano (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist and speaker. He is not a member of the AUSCP. His point of view is his own and not necessarily that of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.