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Pope Francis calls all people to care for the earth

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Pope Francis calls all people to care for the earth

Commentary By Julie A. Ferraro | FāVS News

In 2015, Pope Francis issued the encyclical Laudato Si’ calling for all people to make caring for our common home a priority.

While an encyclical is, technically, a letter sent to Catholic bishops around the world, the message of Laudato Si’ — which means, “Praise be to You,” and is taken from the Canticle of Creatures written by St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology — quickly spread to the masses, and those of other faiths, because its insights and wisdom are so timely.

So, what are people of faith doing to address the catastrophic climate change crisis?

Lots, but there’s still more to be done!

Nearly 10 years since Laudato Si’ was published, Pope Francis followed that original message with Laudate Deum in 2023, reminding people of the urgent need to take action to preserve the planet, of which we are stewards.

Laudato Si’ spawned quite a number of organizations dedicated to sharing its mandate. The Laudato Si’ Movement even prompts individuals to become Laudato Si’ Animators, working in local circles and regional chapters to raise their voices on the topics of climate change, recycling and environmental awareness.

Center for Benedictine Life’s contribution

Two of us at the Center for Benedictine Life will graduate as Laudato Si’ Animators on June 5. The entire community — sisters, oblates, employees and others — are intent upon raising the consciousness of all people about being responsible stewards of our common home.

We’re extending an invitation for all those concerned about what’s been happening to the air, water, soil and animals — as well as the poor around the globe — to join in our efforts.

We started a series in April through Diffusions: Wisdom from the Center, which offers Zoom programs through the Spirit Center. Monastic Land Stewardship: Caring for the Earth in Troubled Times is bringing outstanding voices from the environmental community to speak on ways we can learn from those who ventured out into the wilderness in search of God. We learned to care for God’s precious gift: the land that sustains us with plants and animals.

Previous guest speakers

April’s speaker was Jason M. Brown, a professor in the Department of Humanities at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. His life and understanding of the relationship between place and landscape took a dramatic turn while he was working on his doctoral dissertation about 10 years ago. He spent extended periods at four monasteries of Catholic monks in the western U.S., and the resulting interviews became his book, “Dwelling in the Wilderness: Modern Monks in the American West.”

In his Zoom talk, Brown shared what he learned from these men who have discovered how faith and spirituality walk hand-in-hand with living in ecological harmony with the land, using it as an example of how people can do the same.

Samuel Torvend, professor emeritus at Pacific Lutheran University, gave his presentation “Seeing the Earth with Monastic Eyes” earlier this month, based on his book “Monastic Ecological Wisdom: A Living Tradition.” In that work, he delves into the environmental devastation by the Roman Empire, countered by the practices of the early monks to counter that destruction, tending the land with loving care, while providing nourishment and suitable labor, mixed with prayer and study.

Upcoming speakers

Upcoming speakers will be Brenna Cussen-Anglada (June 8), who works with the Nuns and Nones Land Justice Project,  and Douglas Burton (July 13), whose research focuses on contemplative thought and practice in ancient and medieval Christianity and on spirituality and ecology. Sister Carol Ann Wassmuth, OSB, who has been responsible for hundreds of acres of forest, farm and ranch land over the recent decades, will be the final presenter on Aug. 10.

The hope is that those who participate in these sessions will be inspired to a greater appreciation of the monastic tradition of stewardship, applying the concepts to their own lives, and their own communities, to make a difference for this world we all inhabit.

Along those same lines, May 19-26 is celebrated as Laudato Si’ Week, observed around the anniversary that Pope Francis’ encyclical was issued in 2015. It is an annual prod for humans to look honestly at what is happening to our planet, and speak loudly to defend the delicate balance needed for all creation to survive.

Our future depends on it!


The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

Julie A. Ferraro
Julie A. Ferrarohttps://stgertrudes.org/
Julie A. Ferraro is director of communications at the Center for Benedictine Life at the Monastery of St. Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, she is a mother and grandmother. She has been a journalist for more than 35 years and continues her studies of both Benedictine and Franciscan spirituality.

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