The Virtue and Responsibility of Hope

In the final chapter of Laudato Si, the Holy Father speaks of hope:

Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope.

It’s easy to feel despondent by the denial of undeniable facts by some in power, by the empty promises of many leaders, and by the indifference of those who are so preoccupied with “what’s in it for me?” rather than “how can I better the world for others and those yet to come?”

I have often felt disheartened about our future and the future of generations to come, but fortunately there is still time and there is reason for hope because people are finally waking up to the impending climate emergency. 

I still have hope. Hope that we as a collective species, will pull together and figure out a way to save the planet. But having hope and standing idly by while nothing is done to save our planet are not one in the same. To quote 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg, “We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change – and it has to start today.”

We need to do more than just hope for change, we need to “be the change” that we hope for. (See This means lowering our individual carbon footprints while collectively working for change at the community, national and international levels. At a minimum this means that the USA must remain in the Paris agreement — as urged by both Pope Francis and the US Catholic Bishops — and lead rather than walk away from our duty as stewards of God’s beautiful creation. Only then, can we truly be hopeful. 

Wishing you and your family, and our common home, a wonderful and virtuous 2020!

Paul Litwin

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