April 27, 2015: Anticipating the Pope’s Encyclical

~by Susi Pittman

World leaders are merging in thought and mind that a long term effort must be made in addressing what is called carbon-intensive energy and the negative effects it contributes to the environment, most importantly, the climate change that is affecting our global ecology. One very important religious leader wants to weigh in on the subject, Pope Francis.

Pope Francis, on more than one occasion has voiced his concerns about the ecology and the global environmental crisis of climate change as being moral issues. The Holy Father has been working on a papal writ that he hopes will influence the civil process of the world leaders addressing this issue.

It is speculated that Pope Francis’ soon to presented encyclical to the over 1 billion Catholic faithful of the world will most certainly address the basics on climate change, its relevancy and why we as Catholics need to care about it. At this time, no one has seen the document. However, Cardinal Turkson, who help draft the first copy of the encyclical has said, the pope is not making some political comment about the relative merits of capitalism and communism. . . . He is pointing to the ominous signs in nature that suggest that humanity may now have tilled too much and kept too little.

There seems to be a moral awakening of the entire global population to the climate crisis as more and more food and drinking water sources are affected. We as Christians are called to protect this gift of the Earth and all creation for all people. There has certainly be a lack of respect for creation as the interior conscience of many does not recognize the vital necessity to honor our responsibility to defend creation.

Pope Francis is much like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI in his belief that defending creation isn’t just about protecting the plants and animals, but about all aspects of the environment and how all creation, flora, fauna, elemental, substance and human are interconnected. During his visit to the Philippines this past January he stated, we need to see — with the eyes of faith — the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person. It is what is called integral ecology, that natural order which God set forth not only in nature, but in the moral issues of mankind.

Pope Benedict XVI installed solar panels at the Vatican. He pursued various green initiatives and wrote in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate that the Catholic Church must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone, She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood.

Friar Michael Perry OFM had recently talked with Pope Francis about environmental issues and had this to say about their conversation: The Pope himself brought up the issue of the environment. And he talked about his deep concern that we need, the Church needs, to find the way to respond, using the best of science. But also using the best of goodwill of all of humanity, to bring together a consensus on trying to respond to the crisis, the ecological crisis.

The questions remain; what will the encyclical say? Will Catholics really listen or care and if so will they act on it? Will the world leaders take such papal proclamation under advisement if only to glean what they need in a secular way?

God set forth the creation of the world as being very good! My hope is that Pope Francis will use his encyclical to teach us once again that man’s humanity is truly connected in his love and respect of creation, thus enabling humankind to embrace all aspects of respecting life in all its vulnerable forms and defending it.

Holy Father, I hold you up in prayer to the divine assistance of the Holy Trinity.

Peace be with you.

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

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