Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ recent encyclical is addressed to “every person on the planet”. Not just for Catholics or even for people of faith, but for everyone!
In October, Linda Jones (CAFOD theology adviser) unpacked the encyclical for a group of over 35 people from across the Northampton Diocese, making it clear why it is relevant to all of us Earth-dwellers. The talk was held at St John’s, Luton, and among the number who attended were members from Grassroots Luton, a Christian group who work to forge links between people of different faiths in the town.
Linda pointed out that the encyclical was not only a teaching document, but an invitation to dialogue about the challenges that face us all today. So it makes sense that interspersed throughout the talk, were opportunities for people to discuss how the Pope’s words apply to their own lives.
This sentiment was echoed by many in the group, such as Stella from Sacred Heart, Northampton, who commented: “I left with lots to think about. It made the encyclical more manageable.” Linda discussed the following 5 points. The full text can be found here.
- PRAISE Laudato sii o mi Signore (Praise be to you, oh Lord) is a hymn based on the Canticle of the creatures by St Francis of Assisi. Praise is an attitude. We should assume an attitude of gratitude towards God our creator. Pope Francis says: ‘The world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.’
- CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME Pope Francis also talks about his concern for the Earth and its creatures and for our common home. He says that we are in the process of changing it into a “pile of filth”. He challenges us on our model of development, our understanding of “progress” and how this affects the poorest people, and on the eradication of so many species.
- RELATIONSHIPS This encyclical asks us to reconsider our relationships. So many of us are tempted into indifference towards our neighbours – our neighbour who is hungry and dependent on food banks, our neighbour who is drowning in the Mediterranean, our neighbour who has just watched their house blown away by a typhoon.
- THE WORLD WE WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND US We realise that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. The Pope reminds us that Catholic Social Teaching requires us to show solidarity with the world’s poorest. God created the world and the goods of creation for all to share, not for a few to hold onto for their own benefit.
- CONVERSION Pope Francis says, ‘Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change’. This is not simply about recycling waste or about carbon foot prints, it is a profound challenge to the way we live, to the way we organise society and to our understanding of ‘progress’ . The Pope challenges us to live a simpler lifestyle, not always relying on ‘things’ for happiness.
Time to slow down! Try to find a quiet moment to reflect on the words inspired by Pope Francis in his encyclical : Christian prayer for union with creation .
Feeling swotty? Why don’t you read CAFOD’s Laudato Si’ Study Guide?
Written by Kate Banville