Integral Ecology and Universal Solidarity

by | Mar 21, 2021 | Formation, Reflections

All is connected. This concept, examined at length in Laudato Si, is critically important to Catholics and all people who seek to address the crises gripping our world without abandoning our humanity. In Laudato Si, Pope Francis admonishes the extraction economy and throwaway culture as structural evils that degrade creation and humanity alike and reduce every living thing to an item on a list of assets and liabilities. His Holiness calls us to reject the commodification of our souls and to enter into a new relationship with all of creation.

As the climate crisis matures and millions face extreme weather, drought, and illness, many have abandoned the long-standing consensus that the Earth’s resources are infinite and ours to extract freely. Our growing understanding of our integral relationship with the Earth is crucial, but we must take decisive action if we wish to survive this crisis. Though some say that we can martial the same forces responsible for the crisis to solve it, Laudato Si calls us to the transformational work of universal solidarity.

“We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: ‘Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation’.  All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements, and talents.” (LS 14)

Our Vincentian Charism invites us to the same radical solidarity with the poor. This solidarity calls us to acknowledge our own poverty and to acknowledge that the material and spiritual poverty of all of our siblings is shared. For example, the material poverty experienced by a person exploited for their labor and their land’s natural resources is integrally connected to the spiritual poverty of a person who, for the sake of convenience, allows their sibling to languish in that exploitation and poverty.

We are each called to undergo this transformation and because of the integral relationship between each and every member of the human family, Pope Francis tells us that “then the health of a society’s institutions has consequences for the environment and the quality of human life. ‘Every violation of solidarity and civic friendship harms the environment’. In this sense, social ecology is necessarily institutional, and gradually extends to the whole of society, from the primary social group, the family, to the wider local, national and international communities.” (LS 142)

Pope Francis identifies a great need for community organizing and advocacy for systemic change. As we meet the needs of individuals as a Vincentian Family, let us also take a long look at the systems that produce the needs themselves.


Owen Smith

Assistant Director, Office of Peace, Justice, and Integrity of Creation

Sisters of Charity of New York

The Vincentian Charism and Laudato Si’ is our effort to share various ways that Vincentians find their charism connects with Laudato Si’. We encourage your comments on these posts and welcome anyone interested in submitting an article to email Jim Paddon at