[This post was published just before Pope Francis released Laudato Si (Praised Be: In Care of our Common Home), an encyclical addressed not to all Catholics, as is usual, but to all people. Multi-faith resources emerged quickly and are linked from a later post, here.]
You may have heard that Pope Francis will soon release an important teaching document about ecology and Creation that is expected to address climate change as “one symptom of an unsustainable consumption and wasteful use of resources.” (The document is called an encyclical, which is a formal letter issued by a pope to the Catholic Church concerning moral, doctrinal and disciplinary matters. It is a teaching document for bishops and Catholics everywhere.)
With this encyclical, Pope Francis is creating a beautiful opportunity; while meant for Catholics particularly, his instruction also opens space for all of us to reflect on climate justice, our values, and the teachings of our faiths–to hear the ways in which our diverse traditions speak in harmony and in unison on care of Creation. In this space, we have an opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, linked by our shared calls to care for the earth, care for the most vulnerable, and look together for solutions.
The statement is due out in just under a week – on Thursday, June 18, 2015, and will carry the title Laudato Sii: Sulla Cura Della Casa Comune – Praised Be: On the Care of Our Common Home. It will expand on Biblical teaching, and build on work done by Pope Francis’ predecessors. Its title comes from the Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis’ prayer thanking God for the gifts of Creation. You’ll likely hear a lot about it, though much of the reporting will be about reactions from secular voices, rather than deep readings of the document itself.
Over the next months, building from this encyclical toward Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia and Washington, DC in late September, PA IPL will embark on a Solutions Tour – we’ll replay some blog favorites, and we look forward to adding new stories detailing all kinds of ways to join with others in your community and your congregation to stride forward in active hope.
Read on for 3 things you can do, now and next week, or link below to learn more right now:
- Call your Congressman and both Pennsylvania Senators (phone numbers here). You can do this today:
- Identify yourself as a constituent (give your address) and a person of faith.
- Ask your legislator to read the encyclical, Laudato Sii (Praised Be), in full.
- Ask how PA Interfaith Power & Light can help. (When PA IPL representatives visited the offices of our legislators in May, we asked all of our Catholic legislators to actively reach out to gather with their Roman Catholic colleagues in in connection with the Pope’s visit to PA and DC, in order to study the upcoming encyclical on climate change when it came out. That time is now.)
- After the encyclical is released, read the actual text or an in-depth summary from a faith source. The encyclical will be posted at the Vatican’s website in several languages. The Catholic Climate Covenant, the Franciscan Action Network, and the National Catholic Reporter are all good sources for Catholic reflection and direction in light of the teachings.
- Write about it in your own voice, as a person of faith. You might write a piece for your congregation’s newsletter, for a regional faith newsletter, for our blog here at PA IPL, or as a Letter to the Editor or an OpEd for your local paper. We’ll help!
We want to use this beautiful opportunity for our own reflection and recommitment to living more simply and more fairly. We also want to fling wide the doors, welcoming new voices and minds to our public-sphere discussions about climate justice, climate response, values, and the teachings of our faiths. Let us rise up singing!
Does your curious mind want to learn more right now? You can.
- Check out Interfaith Power & Light’s preview (and download a social media photo for later sharing) #AllAreCalled
- Read an interview with a Vatican astronomer from Detroit
- Read a talk by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, that is widely seen as a preview of content of the encyclical.
- Read a piece by a reporter who specializes in Vatican reporting in which he guesses at likely secular-press angles on encyclical reporting, and responds
- Download this PA IPL 1-pager that will give you a glimpse of official Roman Catholic comments from the early 1990s and onward on climate change. It is a tool that Peter Dugas created for us when he was serving on our board — before Pope Benedict announced that he would step down. He created it specifically for reaching out in Catholic contexts (like his own parish) where many people did not realize that climate change has been a longstanding concern of the Catholic Church. We edited it to add Pope Francis at the end.