Pope Francis is following in the line of many of his predecessors in Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home, in promoting Catholic Social teaching. What is significant about Pope Francis’ approach is that he addresses Catholic Social teaching through the prism of caring for planet earth. Instead of beginning with the needs of humans, he situates the entire presentation in the words of its English title, “On Care for Our Common Home.” While some want to dismiss the issue of the environment as irrelevant to Christian teaching, Pope Francis is declaring emphatically that care for creation is very much a part of Catholic social teaching.
Pope Francis develops several important themes in the encyclical namely:
- We human beings are truly connected with everyone and everything else in the world, including planet earth, our common home. For harmony in the world, all parts of creation need each other.
- There needs to be better cooperation between the political, the economic and the cultural aspects of life. If one dominates, others will suffer and eventually the whole will suffer.
- When there is this lack of focus on cooperation and promotion of the common good, those who suffer the most are the poor, as individuals and as countries. The poor are the last to receive consideration.
As Vincentians the more we can promote the teachings and practical recommendations of Pope Francis in this encyclical, the more we will help those living in poverty, not only in our local area but also throughout the world. The more we do to promote the economic, governmental and cultural proposals that Pope Francis makes, the more we help the poor in our nation and throughout the world to be given the dignity they deserve.
This is yet another example of Vincentians promoting systemic change. We are working to change the system regarding the relationship between human beings and our common home, moving from a system of domination to care. In this we are also changing the system of the relationship between humans, organizations and the poor in our world.
Father Louis Arceneaux, Vincentian Congregation of the Mission is based in New Orleans, LA
Editors note: This is a group of Vincentian Family members who meet regularly at the request of the leaders of their respective branches. Their reflections do not represent Vincentian Family policy, but are shared to spur our reflection and action. Look for these contributions the third Thursday of each month. Comments are very much appreciated.