1. Why should Catholics be concerned for the environment?
In the same way we strive to treat other human beings well, with respect and charity, we should show respect for nature and the environment – and those human beings in following generations. There are plenty of important things for a conscientious Christian to be concerned with:the environment is one of them.
2. What has happened to to the idea of nature being at the service of man, who, according to Genesis, was given “dominion” over God’s creation?
God alone is Lord of heaven and earth; we are only the stewards. Our “dominion” should be like our heavenly Father’s: provident and caring. Nowhere does “dominion” in the Bible suggest that humanity can treat creation harshly or recklessly. Just the opposite. Genesis says we should “cultivate and care for” the earth. Had we been more attentive to our Scripture, perhaps we would have looked after the environment with greater concern and care.
Good stewards treat nature respectfully. Stewardship includes a simple and sober lifestyle, which will help to preserve the environment for future generations. We cannot rob our children’s children of resources, good health and natural beauty.
3. What is Laudato Si’? What is its message?
In this teaching document, Pope Francis is reminding us that our obligation to protect and care for the environment is as essential as our responsibility to care for each other. Catholic Charities agencies across the country are committed to working within our communities to maintain and preserve all of God’s creation, as called for by our faith. While many prior encyclicals have been aimed at bishops or the Church, this teaching document invites the
entire world to renew its relationship with creation. Working inside of a moral framework that has long been part of our Catholic teaching, Pope Francis discusses our call to care for all human life, especially those most vulnerable and marginalized, as well as for creation, helping us to renew our thinking about the relationship between persons and communities with the natural environment.
4. Why should we care about what Pope Francis has to say about the environment?
This is not an “environmental encyclical;” this is a document that encourages us to examine all of our relationships. Our relationship with ourselves, each other, creation, and God – Pope Francis calls us to rebuild what has been broken, including our exploitation of the earth and systems that keep millions from living a fulfilling life.
5. Why does the Catholic Church feel the need to get involved in political issues? Isn’t climate change just an excuse to support liberal policies and politicians?
Our faith calls us to promote peace and work for justice – while this inevitably entails engaging with political systems, it begins as a personal decision and commitment. Our mission is primarily about touching hearts, not impacting elections, and we believe Laudato Si’ will be a critical reminder of our need to strengthen our care and commitment to each other and our common home.
6. Does the encylical call for specific public policy actions?
Pope Francis tells us that the poor and the earth are hurting due to neglect of our responsibility to be faithful stewards of the gift of creation. While global change is needed, it cannot happen without a conversion of the heart on an individual level. This document seeks to remind us all of our common identity as children of God, and our responsibility to care for our common home.