Laudate Deum, Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation
Pope Francis’ recently released his Apostolic Exhortation, Laudate Deum, 8 years after his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ was published. Why? Because he realizes “…that our responses have not been adequate, while the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.” He shares his heartfelt concern in this exhortation, about the care of our common home and our care for one another in the face of the crisis Earth and all its inhabitants is facing.
Mantra: A New Heart (Psalm 51) by Monica Brown, youtube.com
A new heart create in me O God.
A steadfast spirit renew in me O God.
In your mercy, in your mercy.
Pope Francis in this exhortation, published October 4th, confronts the denial by many, even in the Catholic Church, of the human origin of climate change. It is, however, verifiable that specific climate changes provoked by humanity are heightening the probability of extreme observable occurrences that are increasingly frequent and intense. We can observe how, as the global temperature increases the intensity and frequency of great rains and floods increase in some areas and severe droughts in others, extreme heat waves in some places and heavy snowfall in others. #5
So what is to be done? One major cause of the rising temperature is the use of fossil fuels, especially coal burning plants, that create harmful greenhouse gases. We must find alternative sources of energy. This is an especially critical need in Indiana since we have the highest number of coal burning plants of any state in our country. Social Justice Promoters in Indiana Religious Congregations are addressing this concern.
Responding to the human causes of the climate crisis, needs to happen on many levels. Pope Francis points out an area where we can all make a difference. He states that for any lasting change there must be a cultural change based on personal change. Francis describes how this cultural change can come about. “Efforts by households to reduce pollution and waste, and to consume with prudence, are creating a new culture. The mere fact that personal, family and community habits are changing is contributing to greater concern about the unfulfilled responsibilities of the political sectors (or government) and indignation at the lack of interest shown by the powerful. Let us realize, then, that even though this does not immediately produce a notable effect from the quantitative standpoint, we are helping to bring about large processes of transformation rising from deep within society.” #70-71
Partnering for Change
Action can happen on many levels. For example, our financial support of the Catholic Climate Covenant, especially through the small grants program, enables local Laudato Si’ inspired climate justice and sustainability projects get started across U.S. Catholic communities. Catholic Climate Covenant also fosters and trains Creation Care Teams on the parish and diocesan levels. Let us pray that more people (see examples below) will become aware of the difference they can make toward halting harmful practices and actions that contribute to the healing of the planet.
The Care for Creation Team Serving the Archdiocese of Saint Paul/Minneapolis is offering mentorship for parishes around the state who want to build Care for Creation teams.
The Lacordaire Academy in New Jersy is creating a garden to serve as an outdoor classroom where students can sit, work and learn how to be good stewards of our planet. With funding from the Victory Noll Small Grant Program, the Catholic school in Upper Montclair, New Jersey purchased a flowering tree and perennial plants to reduce levels of carbon dioxide, provide habitat for birds, attract pollinators and provide shade. This fall, faculty will begin hosting a bimonthly garden club for students and parents.