Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si, on the environment currently has a new wave of support by the Catholic Climate Covenant. This is an organization that is seeking to create an intergenerational movement based on prayer and action in order to respond to the challenges brought about by climate change through prayer and action. The group was founded in 2006, in order to address the growing need to implement Catholic Social Teaching on the ecology to the Catholic Church. The basis of their mission is to show that Catholics do in fact care about climate change and are working to combat it. The project is called Catholic Climate Project and its goal is to bridge the gap between what organizations are doing and what people should be doing to protect God’s creation; the gap is the lack of communication between the two. This project is led by youth in the United States who are embracing Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home through action, while encouraging others to do the same.
This is not a movement that is only limited to the United States; on the contrary it is an international movement, with youth deeming themselves the ‘Laudato Si Generation’. Late last year we saw youth around the world stand in solidarity with Greta Thunberg as she called for heads of states from around the world to pass more legislation to combat climate change. The Laudato Si generation has organized climate strikes and is calling for the Catholic Church to be one of the leaders to combating climate change, by creating plans to push for sustainability. In Pope Francis’ encyclical, he is calling us to not only pray and reflect on the global warming related disasters, but to also to take action!
There are many different steps that we can be taking both personally and in terms of community engagement. On a personal level, we should be calling our representatives to try to get them to fight for more laws that protect the environment; like reducing the use of plastic throughout your city. Another easy form of action that we can take is reduce our plastic consumption by switching to reusable water bottles. Within the community there can be a clean up and a recycling drive; so that garbage can be properly disposed of. Though this can also pose to be problematic because fighting for climate change does not always take a unified approach. There are many different ways to combat climate change and in order to avoid conflict there needs to be constant communication between the different climate change activists. There needs to be an open line of communication, in order to ensure that there is respect because there are multiple roads that can lead to combating the group advancement of climate change.
Youth are the future of the Church as well as society and now is the time for all of us to follow in the footsteps of Christ by taking action. How can we claim to be Christians if we do not fight to protect the Lord’s Creation? Climate strikes are a great way to take action, but it is not the only way. Educating others about the effects of climate change has been a huge aspect of Laudato Si’s mission. We are part of a generation that has been taught to turn off our emotions and Laudato Si is teaching youth around the world how to care about something other than themselves again.
In the Book of Genesis (2:15), “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” The Lord created us in his image and likeness, because of this we have domain over the Earth. However, this also means that God has entrusted us with the great responsibility of being stewards of his creation; we have to take care of it. We are called to take care and to protect the land that we are living on until we’re no longer on it.