Last week I attended the “Laudato Si’ and the U.S. Catholic Church” conference, held virtually and sponsored by the Catholic Climate Covenant and Creighton University. The keynote speaker was Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago. This week, I would like to share excerpts from Cardinal Cupich’s keynote speech.
Laudato Si’ needs to be understood as a renewed call to conversion, to respond to Jesus’ invitation to think differently about human beings, life, society and our relationship with nature (LS 215): The first conversion involves a shift that affects our politics by moving from an economic model of development to one that emphasizes integral human development (LS 13); a second conversion leads us to become more aware of the interconnectedness of creation and the need for global solidarity through ecological education that is both informational and formational and a third conversion, which is fundamentally spiritual (LS 220), provides us both passion and motivation in taking up the challenges we face.
Somewhere along the way, we have forgotten the sacred relationship that binds us with nature. We falsely have come to believe that we have absolute dominion over the Earth and can exploit it at will. This “is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church” (LS 67), the pope observes. We are called to love and care for the planet, not to treat it despotically. “We are not God” (LS 67), hence we are not at the center of Creation. We are an important part of it, and in fact, are dust of the Earth (Genesis 2:7) for our very bodies are made of her elements.” (LS2) The cry of the Earth now stirs our consciences to “acknowledge our sins against Creation.” (LS 8)
Let us be reminded of our mission to care for each other and for the Earth. Let us seek an interconnected response based on faith and science. And let us not be discouraged by the work ahead. Instead, let us trust and rejoice in God’s promise to make all things new (Rev. 21:5), and take to heart the encouragement the Holy Father offers when he tells us that in spite of the practical relativism and consumer culture we live in, “all is not lost. Human beings,” he notes, “while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves and their mental and social conditioning, choosing again what is good, and making a new start. No system can completely suppress our openness to what is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our hearts. I appeal to my sisters and brothers throughout the world not to forget this dignity which is ours” (LS 205).
Working together, we can help take care of our common home.