Nelida Insua-Coelho/Contributing Writer
Taking responsibility to slow climate change so that future generations benefit from nature and the planet’s vast resources is slowly happening in communities around the world. In the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, named after St. Francis of Assisi, published “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home” in May of 2015.
The encyclical covers topics such as what is currently happening to our planet, the gospel of creation, human roots of the ecological crisis and integral ecology such as environmental, economic and social ecology. “Laudato Si” also goes into the dialogue needed in the international community for new, national and local policies as well as ecological education and spirituality.
“Laudato Si” covers issues from the degradation of the environment to the treatment of all animals.
On page 25 of the encyclical, Pope Francis states:
“It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential ‘resources’ to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.”
Pope Francis is the fifth most powerful person in the world, according to Forbes magazine. To have someone with that much power take a stance on climate change by educating the community on the importance of protecting the environment goes a long way to move people to make better daily choices.
By combining religion, faith and science, mother earth receives support from people that previously didn’t consider the importance of changing their daily actions, or live a sustainable life that allows for future Catholics and other members of the Christian community to subsist according to their values.
“The ‘debate’ on climate change is between scientists. The church’s role is commenting on the morality of polluting,” said Paulinne Nunez, civil engineering alumni and member of Catholic Panthers.
The world needs fair and ambitious leaders to take a stance on climate change. When it comes to climate change, NASA states through their website and along with eighteen other scientific associations that “observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.”
Organizations such as Global Catholic Climate Movement promote “Laudato Si” Alliance through the website laudatosi.org. On the website, members of Global Catholic Climate movement promote ways to live more simply, and they provide information on how to protect the planet.
Some examples given to live a simpler life, as the second part of “Laudato Si” explains, Pope Francis invites us to “return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack.”
It continues: “By buying less stuff, buy[ing] more consciously and looking for goods that have less packaging, are local and supporting businesses that pay fair wages, waste less food and using reusable bags to reduce plastic and sharing with the community and spending time volunteering.”
“Laudato Si” also advocates to reduce greenhouse gasses by driving less, nurturing relationships and taking quality time for ourselves.
“The church doesn’t have authority over the reality of climate change mostly because it relies on science alone,” said Nunez. “For the confirmation of such, the church has to rely on scientists and therefore it can’t become a law in the church. There are doctors..but their authority comes from the doctoral degrees in the field they are in. Protecting the environment is and will continue to be in the church’s teachings. Changes that should be made are: current construction under the Catholic church so that it is reasonably environmentally friendly, efforts from Dioceses to help keep the planet clean, though the main effort will always be to the poor and children. And lastly a unity from priests to show that being environmentally friendly is a Catholic responsibility.”
St. Francis is known as the patron of ecology and animals, and he is seen by others as an Earth Day advocate. Francis’ devotion to God showed through his passion and love for all God’s creations.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, Francis “cared for the poor and sick, he preached sermons to animals, and praised all creatures as brothers and sisters under God.”
Every year around October 4th, Christians around the world come together to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis, praying for creation and blessing of animals, with services in the United States happening in 47 states and the District of Columbia.
Taking a stance on climate change provides generations such as today’s and future ones with the promise of clean air, water and better health. Reducing meat consumption, greenhouse emissions and educating people through clubs and events on campus are essential to improving the world. Taking small steps towards changing habits and improving ourselves as college students and the future generation is essential to securing a safe future. Pope Francis agrees with this by laying out the ecological vision of the Church in his encyclical, “Laudato Si.”
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