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What’s in a Name?

by | Aug 12, 2021 | Formation, Vincentian Family at the U.N.

Often quite a lot.

Look at name changes among major sports teams.  In an effort to (finally) drop names offensive to Native Americans, the football franchise in Washington dropped “Redskins” and baseball’s Cleveland team stopped using “Indians.”

Recently the Global Catholic Climate Movement changed its name.  Discerning that GCCM was a mouthful, that it didn’t translate well to different cultures and languages, and that it had sort of a corporate or institutional feel, the board and organizational leaders consulted widely, prayer about this move, and finally decided on “Laudato Si Movement” as its new name.

One of those consulted, who blessed the new name on Pentecost, is the author of Laudato Si, a document considered by many the most outstanding accomplishment of Pope Francis to date.

It’s an interesting change.  Often a “movement” achieves some success and then becomes more institutional, or at least is considered as such.  In this instance, a “movement” very much remains one with a name indicating even less institutionalization and more action, walking together, creating something, pushing forward—well, moving!

The change also has a fascinating feature.  “Laudato Si” is a prayer praising our Creator God: praise be to you.  Not a God who once created, but One who is creating.  Who’s not finished.  Who works through us to continue creating, or re-creating, the face of Mother Earth, our Common Home.  So when we say “Laudato Si” we’re doing a lot more than referencing a great document; we’re praying.

So let us celebrate the name change in the best possible way: by becoming real stewards of creation, and by consciously praying that name.  Laudato Si!

Jim Claffey
NGO representative of the Congregation of the Mission to the United Nations


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