June 01, 2020

Do You Hear the Cry of the Poor? Mercy Global Action's Participation in Laudato Si' Week

The world joined in prayer on the 24th of May on the fifth anniversary of Laudato Si’.  As we prayed, “open our minds and touch our hearts, so we may be attentive to Your gift of creation” we came to the end of a week of prayer, reflection, and education. [1]  Since Pope Francis published Laudato Si, we have been living into the call to care for our common home.  By integrating spirituality, science, and social justice we seek to engage in a holistic and integral approach to caring for creation.  

Catherine McAuley said, “The poor need help today, not next week.”  Catherine’s sense of urgency stemmed from the harm she witnessed because of the lack of education, healthcare, and job opportunities.  Today, we can see how the care of our common home is closely linked with the care of “the poor, sick, and ignorant.”   We now count Earth among the poor and sick.  Furthermore, Laudato Si’ connects the cry of the poor with the cry of earth, and the degradation of Earth affects the poor and most vulnerable among us first.  Global temperatures rose  1.1oC due to pollution and is expected to rise to a catastrophic 3.2 oC.[2]  Already, we bear witness to increasingly devastating extreme weather events, rising sea levels, the loss of biodiversity, and an increased risk of zoonotic diseases like the coronavirus.  Individuals and families who are forced from their homes due to the devastation from extractive industries, pollution, drought, and the loss of crops and livestock are already part of our global reality.  This is the cry of the poor.  This is the cry of Earth.

Laudato Si’ week held this cry in prayer and reflection, beginning with a two-day online retreat and a workshop on eco-spirituality with the Global Catholic Climate Movement.  Prayer and spirituality root us in our advocacy and strengthen us all for the work ahead, as does our biblical call to stewardship.  In a subsequent Laudato Si’ Week webinar on Advocacy, Cardinal Turkson discussed Pope Francis’ use of the term the gospel of creation.  Creation, like the four written gospels, draw us into the story of God’s wondrous acts of love and salvation.  Creation, the ever-evolving work of God, not only supports our human family, it also connects us to all living things.  

The importance of understanding and integrating eco-spirituality and the science of climate change forms the base for our long-term conversion.  Prayer and reflection alone are not enough to move people to action.  “While we place our confidence in God, we must act as if success depended on our own exertions” (Catherine McAuley).  The Laudato Si’ Week webinar on Sustainability highlighted the actions needed to preserve creation for the good of all now, and for future generations.  Catholics, united by the call of Laudato Si’, can create a more sustainable world.  Dan Misleh, from Catholic Energies, shared success stories of converting churches to sustainable power.  The sustainable projects not only save thousands of dollars in energy costs but work to protect our planet.  Another story of hope came from Father Dario’s work in Brazil with local communities facing displacement and pollution from mining companies.  Through uniting local communities and empowering the people, the grass-roots level made progress in their struggle to protect their towns, livelihoods, and seek greater corporate accountability.  Last, in the Advocacy webinar, Anja Appel shared her work with the Austrian Bishop’s Conference to divest from fossil fuel investments.  She stated, “the investing of money is not ethically neutral… purchasing is always a moral act.”

Everything from everyday acts, to corporate investing, and international advocacy matters in our ministry to save our common home and all life.  God’s call to be good stewards of creation takes on new life within our charism of Mercy and in the context of Laudato Si’.  Now more than ever, the call of the gospel of creation must not be ignored.  “The way in which [we] relate to the earth is a test of the way we relate with God, just as it is when [we] respond to the poor, the hungry, the lonely, or the imprisoned.” [3]  The people, creatures, and resources of Earth are all integrally connected.  We live only because we are cradled by the web of life God wove out of creation.  Seeking to continue the work of Mercy begun by Catherine, we must now hold creation among the poor and sick whom we seek to serve.

Messages to: Amanda Carrier rsm - MGA Intern

[1] “Common Prayer for the 5th Anniversary of Laudato Si’.” Laudato Si’ Week 2020. https://laudatosiweek.org/prayer/

[2] “Emissions Gap Report 2019: Global Progress Report on Climate Action.” UN Environment Programme. 26 November, 2019.  https://www.unenvironment.org/interactive/emissions-gap-report/2019/

[3] Grey, Carmody. “Theological Imaginings: Mercy and the Degradation of Earth.” Mercy International Association. https://www.mercyworld.org/about/our-initiatives/mgp-themes/segment-2/theological-imaginings-degradation-of-earth/


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