NEWS Actualizing the Vision of Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home

Actu­al­iz­ing the Vision of Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Com­mon Home 

Round­table at the Pon­tif­i­cal Acad­emy of Sciences

Novem­ber 2, 2016


On the Vat­i­can web­site: click here.


Laudato Si’ is a pow­er­ful text, polit­i­cal and poetic, and deeply inspir­ing.  It addresses the most crit­i­cal issues of our time in vision and sub­stance.  It elu­ci­dates the neces­sity and means of “indi­vid­ual eco­log­i­cal con­ver­sion”, to see the “world as a sacra­ment of communion.”

Two of its guid­ing tenets are “the human envi­ron­ment and the nat­ural envi­ron­ment dete­ri­o­rate together”, and that we have mutu­ally rein­forc­ing oblig­a­tions to the earth and to each other.  The Beat­i­tudes pro­vide the phi­los­o­phy to shape our work of trans­form­ing and heal­ing soci­ety and our planet.  The Encycli­cal pro­vides the blueprint.

The fol­low­ing means and prin­ci­ples to actu­al­ize the vision of Laudato Si’ were put for­ward at the 2 Novem­ber 2016 Round­table at the Pon­tif­i­cal Acad­emy of Sciences:

Action Rec­om­men­da­tions:

  1. Expand the dia­logue with those with influ­ence and power (not­ing specif­i­cally those who drive invest­ment deci­sions) on the dove­tail­ing of envi­ron­men­tal and social issues  — “the book of nature is one and indi­vis­i­ble” — and its rel­e­vance and impli­ca­tions; toward that end estab­lish a sus­tain­able invest­ment advi­sory com­mit­tee for the Vatican’s own invest­ment activities.
  1. Con­tin­ued per­sonal engage­ment and pres­ence of the Pope in deliv­er­ing and keep­ing cur­rent the mes­sage of Laudato Si’. The more Pope Fran­cis speaks about cli­mate change and Laudato Si’, the more he will influ­ence pub­lic opin­ion around the world.
  1. A detailed and well resourced com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mes­sag­ing strat­egy for Laudato Si’, tar­geted to diverse audi­ences, which stresses the urgency of the chal­lenge.  A plan, dif­fer­en­ti­ated in style, tone, pace and sug­gested terms of engage­ment for the four dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions that are active at this moment in his­tory. The dif­fer­ent gen­er­a­tions should be addressed on their own terms, and with their input. Engage lead­ers in social media to spread and evolve the mes­sage of Laudato Si‘.
  1.  That the insti­tu­tion of the Catholic Church, serv­ing as spir­i­tual guide and moral mes­sen­ger, also serve as phys­i­cal and behav­ioral exam­ple, mod­el­ing in micro­cosm, the plan­e­tary vision of Laudato Si’ by accel­er­at­ing the con­ver­sion to sus­tain­able stew­ard­ship of its own land and assets, the Church’s train­ing pro­grams for priests being a pow­er­ful, inte­gral aspect.
  2. Pro­mote an inter­dis­ci­pli­nary inter­faith for­est, land and cli­mate ini­tia­tive — which acknowl­edges the “mys­te­ri­ous rela­tions between things” — con­vened and directed by an inclu­sive pub­lic pri­vate partnership.
  1. Be aware of and address the emo­tional and spir­i­tual impli­ca­tions and sor­row deriv­ing from our “dis­fig­ure­ment” of our com­mon home, which we have “bur­dened and laid waste,” and from dis­tress­ing com­mer­cial­ism, which “baffle[s] the heart.” Laudato Si’ needs to be widely dis­cussed, shared and acted upon in pub­lic and men­tal health cir­cles, for which it has pro­found relevance.

Prin­ci­ples to incor­po­rate in the var­i­ous work of our com­mu­ni­ties, and addi­tional points of discussion:

  1. Under­stand the rela­tion­ship between “veloc­ity” of cur­rent cul­ture and the loss of inter­nal, spir­i­tual time and time for reflec­tion, which is nec­es­sary for build­ing a just and com­pas­sion­ate society.
  1.  Rec­og­nize that energy poverty is a major imped­i­ment to equity and har­mony both within and between com­mu­ni­ties and nations, and greatly impedes our progress in sus­tain­ing the Earth as our com­mon home.
  1. Sup­port grass roots activist move­ments and indi­vid­u­als, as pow­er­ful coun­ter­vail­ing as well as spir­i­tu­ally enrich­ing forces that make the need for global stew­ard­ship vibrant and accessible.
  2. Assure that indige­nous for­est inhab­i­tants have mean­ing­ful work that arises from their val­ues, and their rela­tion­ship to the land.  Assure that there are spe­cific avenues for the wis­dom of these com­mu­ni­ties to per­me­ate our atom­ized civil societies.
  1. Encour­age down to earth dia­logue among faith com­mu­ni­ties and civil soci­ety on the sub­ject of envi­ron­men­tal mar­ket mech­a­nisms which, like any other tool, can be used either for good or ill, remain­ing mind­ful that the Econ­omy is a sub­set of Nature, and not the other way around.
  1.  Sup­port gov­ern­ments in craft­ing poli­cies and laws which reflect our moral and spir­i­tual oblig­a­tions to each other and to Nature, as they trans­late into phys­i­cal and mate­r­ial obligations.
  2.  Work to estab­lish local and national com­mit­ments to use-​​inspired basic research, required for sus­tain­able energy and water sys­tems and valu­ing forests. Research and inno­va­tion is a vital tool in imple­ment­ing the Encycli­cal, will fos­ter benef­i­cent new tech­nolo­gies, nar­row the gap between Nature and tech­nol­ogy, and allow peo­ple and Nature again to “extend a friendly hand to one another.”
  1. We need a change of heart; we need to increase ten­der­ness towards each other and the envi­ron­ment, and the way we will get there is not built solely on greater ana­lyt­i­cal insights and new pol­icy, but also mov­ing aes­thetic expe­ri­ences that raise our minds, hearts, and souls towards the good the tran­scen­den­tal, and the holy.
  1.  Diets of those con­sum­ing indus­tri­ally pro­duced meat, notably cat­tle, require a dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of arable land, and water. This extrav­a­gant inequity high­lights that, as with what we pur­chase, what we eat is a moral choice. Nature’s bounty can be suf­fi­cient for all needs, but not all greed.
  1.  Engage the spir­i­tual infra­struc­ture of our world geo­graph­i­cally, and include geo­re­li­gious dynam­ics in dia­logues about envi­ron­men­tal pro­grams and pol­icy. Keep the spirit of Laudato Si’ alive, repeated, and deeply ingrained in com­mu­ni­ties of faith through com­mu­ni­ca­tions media, action­able geography-​​relevant mate­ri­als (like maps with guided land-​​use and land/​facility main­te­nance sug­ges­tions for var­i­ous dio­ce­ses), and through sci­en­tific, and NGO partnerships.
  1.  Dis­sem­i­nate a cen­tral les­son of Laudato Si’: that we bear moral respon­si­bil­ity for the full life­cy­cle of activ­ity result­ing from our indi­vid­ual eco­nomic actions. We each have per­sonal respon­si­bil­ity for the envi­ron­men­tal harm caused by the energy we use or the food we eat, any inequity or injus­tice in the prod­uct sup­ply chains that pro­vide us goods and ser­vices, and the byprod­ucts and waste we create.
  1.  Oper­a­tionally cap­i­tal­ize on and expand the com­mon­al­i­ties between reli­gions, com­mu­ni­ties, and beliefs around the planet, a shared lan­guage that can build under­stand­ing and coop­er­a­tion to sup­port sustainability.
  1.  Laudato Si’, explic­itly and implic­itly, grounds our mate­r­ial real­ity in a cos­mo­log­i­cal view of inter­re­lat­ed­ness — in the tra­di­tion of St. Fran­cis, Teil­hard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, among oth­ers — pro­claim­ing the Uni­verse a “com­mu­nion of sub­jects,” and not “a col­lec­tion of objects.” (Thomas Berry, 1999)


Leslie Parker, REIL; and Pro­fes­sor Daniel M. Kam­men, Found­ing Direc­tor, Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory, http://​rael​.berke​ley​.edu, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berkeley

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