Caring for Creation
Heeding the Call of Pope Francis
A Primer on Laudato Si
Dr. Carolyn Woo, the former president of Catholic Relief Services, offers an overview of Laudato Si, complete with explanations of climate change and why urgent action is necessary.
Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity, and justice, and embody Catholic social and moral teaching.
What can you do?
What can you do in your parishes, schools, and families to take up Pope Francis' challenge to care for creation?
Conduct an inventory of how well your ministry encourages people to care for God’s creation: Do you incorporate praying for creation? Are there opportunities to learn about the Church’s teaching on the environment? Do you recycle? Do your events use more resources—including food or disposable products—than you need to? Based on your inventory, come up with at least one, practical way you can strengthen this.
Ditch the Bottle
Is your parish, school, or family still using plastic water bottles? Did you know that 3 liters of water is used to package 1 bottle of water? Plastic water bottles are petroleum-based. In the U.S alone, it takes 1.5 million barrels of oil to meet the demands. An estimated 1,500 plastic bottles end up as waste in landfills or thrown in the ocean every second. Don't let your bottles contribute to this waste.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Are there clothes, plastics, paper, or cardboard at your home, school, or place of work that could be reused or recycled? The U.S. recycling rate is around 34.5%. If we're able to get the rate to 75%, the effect will be like removing 50 million passenger cars from U.S. roads. More than 11 million tons of recyclable clothing, shoes, and textiles make their way into landfills each year
Create a Green Team
With the blessing of your pastor and/or principal, consider proposing a “green team” to your pastoral and finance councils. This team would evaluate parish-wide environmental costs and opportunities—like overall energy usage, recycling, having a community garden, going solar, and participating in community clean-ups. Help your community be more mindful about its carbon footprint and how to show care for our common home.
Save Energy At Home
Swap out incandescent light bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs. Old fashioned light bulbs waste tons of energy, and actually give off more heat energy than light. Install a programmable thermostat that limits when the heating or air conditioning comes on. Put inside lights on timers and outside lights on motion sensors. Replace old appliances with Energy Star appliances. Insulate your home!
Compost Your Scraps
Rather than toss corn cobs, banana and potato peels, apple cores, and those moldy leftovers into the garbage destined for the landfill compost them. The section on landscaping provides resources on how to get started. Homemade compost can be used to fertilize plants, save money on potting soil, and reduce trips to the retail gardening center.
The Fruit of the Spirit
In this short 5 minute clip, Pom Pom ( a young fruit tree) learns to trust and receive sunlight and how to grow fruit. The live studio audience of children learns how they too need light to bloom and that Jesus is the "Light of the World" and helps them grow in the Fruit of the Spirit.
"What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?" (LS, 160)
To help you learn more about how you and your parish, school, and family can help care for the gift of creation, we've searched high and low for the best resources we could find. Click on each resource to be taken to the website we suggest.
Lead the Way
Stay connected and get involved with Catholic Relief Services through their Lead the Way campaign. "By taking action to help the most vulnerable and effect systemic change, we can lead the way to a world where every man, woman and child are able to thrive. Learn how you can use your prophetic voice to make a difference today."
Pope Francis’ revolutionary encyclical calls for a “broad cultural revolution” to confront the environmental crisis. “Laudato Si” is pretty long, but if you want to go straight to the source, why not start with the original text, available from the Vatican website.
“Praise be to you, my Lord.” These are the words that open Pope Francis’ encyclical on ecology and care for God’s creation. These words, quoting St. Francis of Assisi’s beautiful canticle, remind us 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. Help spread the Pope's message.
What the Bishop's Say
The Catholic Church brings a distinct perspective to the discussion of environmental questions, by lifting up the moral dimensions of these issues and the needs of the most vulnerable among us. This unique contribution is rooted in Catholic teaching calling us to care for creation and for "the least of these." (Mt 25:40)
Catholic Climate Covenant
Urge members of your congressional delegation, write to your representatives, sign the Climate Covenant, and get some talking points for those who struggle to understand science. The CCC provides some great resources for home and work.
Ten Things in your Home linked to Climate Change
Decision-making is hard. Every day we are faced with thousands of decisions: what to eat, where to go, how to get there, what to say, and most recently, who to vote for in the upcoming election. This endless list of questions can be overwhelming. What can you do at home?
Living on the Edge of Climate Change
What is it like to leave where climate change affects your everyday life? Sure, we all live in a place like that, but what about those whose resources are disappearing faster, whose lives are in danger, and whose way of life is in dire straits?
The Vanishing Waters of Bolivia
From Lake Poopó to the Chacaltaya Glacier, Bolivia’s water is disappearing at an alarming rate due to climate change. This is impacting thousands of Bolivians who are having to change the way they live to survive.
Top Ten Takeaways From Laudato Si
The greatest contribution of “Laudato Si” to the environmental dialogue is, to my mind, its systematic overview of the crisis from a religious point of view. Since it is a long document, the folks at America Magazine have offered a summary of the top ten takeaways.