In view of the concerns of so many throughout the world, the devastation caused by changes in patterns of life and natural disasters, it is time for our catholic communities to examine the teachings of our Church and develop plans of action for the enhancement of the earth and protection of all created beings.
It might come as a surprise to some but religious leaders and theologians have been recognizing in our Catholic Social Teaching a clear direction with a common purpose. The United Nations took up issues of the environment declaring a worldwide celebration of a Day for the Environment in 1973. Two years previous, Saint Pope Paul VI noting the eightieth anniversary of the “Rerum Novarum” of Leo XIII wrote: “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-conceived considered exploitation of nature he risks destroying it…Not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace—pollution and refuse, new illness and absolute destructive capacity—but the human framework is no longer under man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may be intolerable.” (21)
This twentieth-century prophet was warning us about what we are now experiencing throughout many nations, including our own. Pandemics have plagued our societies, settled cities have suffered the ravages of “storms of the century”, wars are being fought over the lack of resources, and men, women, and children have had to flee violent uprisings and cease to exist where they have dwelt for millennia. The dignity of humanity is not seen as God’s gift but is defined on the basis of the amount of power possessed, the size of houses built, the value of material things possessed, and most recently the numbers of weapons had to defend those very signs of affluence.
What Pope Paul declared has been repeated time and again by his successors: Saint Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and most recently, Pope Francis. Each has defined for us a path back to righteousness which Jesus proclaimed again and again from the Sermon on the Mount to His vision of the final judgment as written in Matthew’s Gospel.
On this web page, we hope to share the teachings of our Church as they are acted upon in the Archdiocese, our parishes, and diverse ecclesial movements. It is a true human tragedy when few individuals look upon our times and see everything through the prism of politics. They forget the Divine Mandate given to us by God from the beginning in which He proclaimed all that was created was good and each person is a steward of the gift of Creation.
Make the most of this Season of Creation. Read Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ on care for our common home, and learn more about Fratelli tutti here. Take action with the Laudato Si’ Movement, Catholic Climate Covenant, or the Ignatian Solidarity Network. Learn more about the Season of Creation here.
Read Harvest of Faith from the Summer 2019 issue of Archways to look at some of the ways Catholic organizations are working to preserve the integrity and beauty of the earth and feed their communities. Efforts in sustainable farming, land preservation and energy efficiency are sowing seeds of hope for present and future generations. Read here!
CARE OF CREATION DURING THE LENTEN SEASON
There are many ways to make a difference in your life and your environment, especially during this season of Lent. Why not incorporate some of the suggestions below into your daily routine, along with your traditional Lenten practice, and see what changes you can make?
You are invited to download and share these graphics, as well as the Lenten Carbon Fast Calendar provided by the Church of St. Francis Xavier’s Environment Ministry included below. Thank you for your kind consideration!
We are all invited to be good stewards of the earth. Learn more about how you can participate in the care of God’s creation during this Season of Creation during Laudito Si’ Week and Earth Day.
National Migration Week Interfaith Prayer Service
On September 20, 2022, an interfaith prayer service was held to commemorate National Migration Week. People of faith came together to pray and share stories as an invitation to care for each other. A recording of the presentation is available to you below.
2022 Pope Francis’ World Day of the Poor
A U.N. Side Event. November 11, 2022, at the Church Center for the United Nations, New York City. Sponsored by Fordham University’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development (Fordham IPED), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and Caritas Internationalis. This event was also live-streamed on YouTube.
Screening of The Letter
The film, “The Letter” has been released to bring to life the words of Pope Francis in Laudatio Si. This extraordinary encyclical challenges everyone in the human community to respond to the cries of God’s creation. Though I have attended group studies, lectured on its content, and read the document and responses of many theologians, I realized that this presentation reminds all of us how we are a visual generation. The thoughts of the Pope are brought to the floor as we witness the embodiment of his words. While he is a man of hope we recognize that too many of us take on the attitude of “that’s the way it is”. Tragedy strikes but is soon forgotten. We remember the Australian Forest fires, but we have our own problems. When the tsunami strikes and destroys thousands of lives, we extend our charitable resources but then go back to our regular existence. This recent effort by creative caring people to bring home the depth of meaning of the Pope’s letter to all his brothers and sisters must challenge us to accompany him as he leads us.
I would not attempt to summarize the gift that this work is, but I would hope to share with you some points which would encourage you to view The Letter with others and discuss it. We must just not allow it to be a merely external moment but must become an evangelical moment of conversion and commitment. Our Scriptures proclaim that when God created the Universe it was good. He made us its stewards. Sad to say, though the centuries have seen progress in our collaboration with the Divine, we have wasted too many opportunities and forgotten our common concerns for our neighbors, and remained in primitive stances of self-advancement with little sight for who and what comes after our mortal lives on this planet. The main protagonists of the film call us to be responsible personally and socially. The woman of science tells us frankly that we have the tools of science but that is not enough. We must also touch the transcendent in our lives if we are to be faithful to the Creator and the Creation. Caring for God’s creation is not a political strategy, it is a moral obligation that is given to us from the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Saints. The Canticle of the Sun and Moon given to us by Francis of Assisi is the fruit of his meditation on the words and works of the holy men and women of history. His namesake reminds us we can do no less and much more to give praise to the Divine.
The Letter focuses us on people. It attunes us to their struggles caused very often by others. They are listening to the cries of many in their lands. We must listen to those same cries. What can we do? Alone, we can do nothing. With God, and each other, all things are possible. See this visual recognition of the Pope’s mission to us. Work on your block, in your parish, with your neighbor. Be surprised by Grace.
Fr. Brian E. McWeeney is the Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs at the Archdiocese of New York
A Conversation with People of Faith: Welcoming Persons Without Homes
A conversation and reflection on:
• The call to welcome persons without homes
• Experiences as persons of faith committed to unhoused persons
• Experiences of unhoused persons and how they are perceived
• The ways people of faith in NYC already welcome persons without homes
• The new possibilities that are open to all of us
Wednesday, January 25, 2023, at 1:30 pm.
This event was sponsored by Sisters of Charity of New York, LEFSA, Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, and Community of Sant’ Egidio.
Additional previous events are listed below.
The movie The Letter about the Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change and ecology, offers a transformative new vision of environmental protection. The film, made in cooperation with the Vatican is available for free through a partnership with YouTube.
October 4th marked the close of the annual celebration of the Season of Creation at Iona University.
St. Francis Xavier Environment Ministry hosted a Clean Up Day at Glick Park next to the East River.