A COMMON RESPONSIBILITY

 

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”

Pope Francis, “Laudato Si,” (23)

 

Pope Francis has continued the tradition of several recent Popes in writing to the world community about the impact of our global ecological crisis and to see this crisis as a moral problem and moral responsibility.

 

As Pope John Paul II stated on January 1, 1990 for the celebration of the World Day of Peace:

“We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interference in other areas and to the well-being of future generations.”

 

Pope Francis, in his encyclical letter, Laudato Si,   On Care for Our Common Home, touched on many justice issues.  Four of these are the following:

  • Community:  The Pope calls every person in the world to participate in the work that must be done.  Because we are in a global crisis it is the global community that needs to come together and respond.  Pope John XXIII in his encyclical letter Pacen in Terris addressed his letter to all people of good will.
  • Care for the Poor:  It is the poor who have contributed the least to the problem and they are the ones being and will continue to be affected the most by climate change.  Rising water levels, increased heat waves and droughts/rains that destroy farming land, unjust land distribution and exhaustion of the soil, unjust economic situations, and war are some of the ways that the poor are impacted.
  • Climate as a Common Good:  Pope Francis states that climate is a common good.  It belongs to everyone and everyone is impacted by climate change.  Without care for the environment, we are threatening other aspects of life.  There needs to be a more internationally coordinated approach to reducing the effects of climate change on our earth.  Every person on this earth has a “right to a safe environment.” (Pope John Paul II, #9)
  • Ecological Spirituality:  Pope Francis is calling for a genuine conversion in ways of thought and behavior for all persons of this earth.  Abuse and overuse of our earth has created a disconnection.  Modern society must take a serious look at its life style and thus the crisis we are facing is a moral problem and moral responsibility.

 

The concern for the common good is at the heart of this document.  Catholics and other people are free to agree or disagree with Pope Francis’ analysis and the suggestions he offers for action.  There are various opinions regarding science, economics and politics.  One of the principle points Pope Francis stated over and over during his visit to the United States was dialogue.  In his encyclical letter he encourages an honest and open debate about all these areas of life which impact the global environment and are impacted by the global environment. 

 

Pope Francis is calling every person of good will to reflect on these issues.  We have the capacity to change if we are open.

 

Ann Kasparek