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Letter: Pope’s message inspires us to make the world better

Pope’s message inspires us to make the world better

It is with great excitement that we welcome Pope Francis’ much-anticipated encyclical on caring for our earth, “our common home.”

This is not a new teaching, but a new application of a very old teaching. As popes usually do, Pope Francis has built on the strong environmental statements of previous popes, notably Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.

It was Pope John Paul II who in 1979 named St. Francis of Assisi the Patron of Ecology. Pope Benedict is often referred to as the “Green Pope.” But this is perhaps the most challenging letter we’ve seen from a pope in a very long time.

In Francis’ encyclical, we are all being urged to view our current climate crisis from a deeply moral and spiritual framework. We are being challenged to work toward a future where all people on earth can breathe clean air and drink clean water and enjoy a safe and sustainable environment. Ensuring the safety and development of children and future children is the particular responsibility of this generation.

This encyclical is a call to a renewed sense of urgency, to new energy, to a deeper sense of our shared humanity. It strongly encourages fresh and creative initiatives at every level of society, from governments to individuals. It clearly invites us to renewed courage and hope.

Our children and our grandchildren deserve no less from us.

Sister Eileen O’Connor