Caring for creation – central to Pope Francis’ papacy

As the first pope in history to write an encyclical letter on the environment, Pope Francis demonstrated to the Catholic Church and world, the urgent importance of caring for God’s creation.
But Francis’ challenging green encyclical “Laudato Si’ ” (subtitled “On Care for Our Common Home”) was but the first major initiative of a papacy significantly dedicated to teaching us to care for both humanity and the earth – which he insists are intimately connected to each other – “integral ecology.”

The Holy Father’s next major environmental step was establishing the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” celebrated every first day of September.

In this year’s Sept 1 message titled “Show Mercy to our Common Home”, Pope Francis highlights, along with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, “the moral and spiritual crisis at the root of environmental problems.”

Supported by overwhelming scientific evidence, the pontiff warns, “Global warming continues, due in part to human activity: 2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires, and extreme weather events. . The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.”

The Holy Father points us to another fact: “Human beings are deeply connected with all of creation. When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings. . Let us hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

In highly prophetic language, Pope Francis challenges us to personal and ecological conversion. He writes, “As individuals, we have grown comfortable with certain lifestyles shaped by a distorted culture of prosperity and a disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary.

“And we are participants in a system that has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.

“Let us repent of the harm we are doing to our common home.”

In “Show Mercy to our Common Home,” Pope Francis then takes another major environmental step forward by adding “care for our common home” to the traditional works of mercy.

As a spiritual work of mercy, “care for our common home” should inspire us to have “a grateful contemplation of God’s world which allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us,” says Francis.

And as a corporal work of mercy, “care for our common home,” should move us to exercise “simple daily gestures which break with the logic of violence, exploitation and selfishness,” and thus should lead us to actively build a better world.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has some great ideas to help us “build a better world.”

Called “America’s Best Idea,” the 1872 designation of Yellowstone National Park – the world’s first national park – inspired a worldwide national park movement comprising over 100 nations. This outstanding example of wise and loving care for our common home proves that we are capable of cherishing God’s creation.

In “Show Mercy to our Common Home,” Pope Francis urges us to ask ourselves, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”

How we answer this piercing question, will significantly determine the fate of our common home.



  1. Doug Reply

    Global climate change? By the presence and activities of humankind? Horse hockey !!!

  2. Patrick Gannon Reply

    I really want to like this Pope, but you just don’t get credit for being a fireman when you’re the arsonist throwing kerosene on the fire. The article mentions how humans are the primary problem, but the RCC insists that those least able to afford large families do so under threat of eternal punishment if they use contraception. It’s not rabbits or moose or elephants that are destroying the earth, it’s humans, but the RCC has no interest in addressing THE problem – out of control population growth. When I was born it had taken the earth 4.5 billion years to come up with 2.5 billion people. In my lifetime alone we have gone to over 7 billion. You have to be blind not to see the problem.
    The Pope is so concerned about the poor, those most affected, while at the same time insisting that they pump out more starving kids who can’t be fed or cared for. How many will die before I finish this post? He has at his control, if he has the courage to use it, the ability to put an end to a litany of sexual sins, starting with use of contraception.

    The Pope suggests that if we all just cut back a little, everyone can survive – until the population doubles again… where does it end? More importantly, when does one of the richest organizations in the world set the example by giving up all its goodies? What with the financial scandals at the Vatican, it hardly seems to be the time to tell others to cut back.
    The Pope speaks in glowing terms of the national park service setting aside pieces of the earth so that humans don’t screw them up – but sooner or later there will be too many humans to stay out of that prime real estate if we don’t get out of the Iron Age with the disordered obsession the RCC has with all things sexual – including that which can actually help accomplish the Pope’s goal – sin free use of contraception.

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