In today’s reading, we are told that Joshua asked Israel to “decide today whom you will serve.” Pope Francis’s encyclical on ecology, “Laudato Si’ (Praised Be),” asks a similar question. Pope Francis challenges us to turn away from over-consumption, and to live instead the simple, sustainable lives that honor God’s Creation and our place in it.
In “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis explores how our unsustainable lifestyles affect vulnerable people. Environmental degradation causes sickness, displacement, and even violent conflicts. Pope Francis explains, “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (139).
Climate change in particular is of concern to Pope Francis. As he notes, “The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all” (23). The Church has long recognized that human actions cause greenhouse gases to warm the planet, and the majority of them are produced by people in the developed world, including the United States. Climate change is a call to our conscience, since “the warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world” (51).
The Holy Father calls us to come together as one family and work for a brighter future, saying, “We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it” (229).
Pope Francis encourages us: “Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.” For more information on the Catholic community’s response to climate change, please visit CatholicClimateCovenant.org. The Covenant is affiliated with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and is the only US Catholic organization focused solely on climate change.