Annotations: Care for Our Common Home
Laudato Siˊ: On Care for Our Common Home, is Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical addressed not only to the Catholic Church but to all people. It calls for swift and unified global action to address the climate crisis and environmental justice. The text begins with a humble reminder that all of humanity share life with the planet, that our bodies are sustained by elements of Earth.
From a place of humility and interdependence, Pope Francis points to our moral obligation to care for our common home and invites dialogue across religions, cultures, generations, and fields of knowledge on how to respond to the ecological crisis. Within this universal dialogue, Francis wants to prioritize certain voices—indigenous communities, those living in poverty who experience a disproportionate impact of environmental degradation, and young people demanding change for a more sustainable future
The care for our common home is a concrete expression of the “faith that does justice”—a central facet of our Jesuit mission. Laudato Siˊ flows from and expands the Catholic social justice tradition in light of the assertion that everything is connected. The guiding framework of integral ecology allows Francis to name the inseparability of social justice and environmental justice—or the “cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.”
He recognizes climate as a common good and calls for universal and intergenerational solidarity. This involves the transformation of social and economic structures that perpetuate global inequality as well as an examination of one’s own lifestyle. The Pope is concerned with what he describes as a throwaway culture marked by materialism, consumerism, and indifference toward people who are marginalized.
As one of the four Universal Apostolic Preferences, the Jesuits have prioritized the care for our common home in all areas, including higher education. The Ignatian Solidarity Network and Jesuit Office of Justice and Ecology collaborated on an ecological examen, which draws upon Ignatian spiritual practices to promote ecological spirituality and action. Here at USF, we work to infuse and instill sustainability and an awareness of environmental justice throughout our campus. As we work to educate students who will be the leaders who reckon with the climate crisis, Ignatian pedagogy is an essential tool.
As we engage the ethical, spiritual, and practical implications of this area of our mission, we might ask ourselves:
- How can the university foster interfaith dialogue and action on the care for our common home?
- How can USF center the voices of indigenous communities, those who are marginalized by poverty and racism, and young people demanding a more sustainable future?
- How might environmental sustainability and environmental justice be integrated concretely across the curriculum? Where is this being done well?
The Holy See. (24 May 2015). “Laudato Siˊ: Encyclical Letter of the Holy Father on Care for Our Common Home.” Dicastero per la Comunicazione, Libreria Editrice Vaticana. https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html
Ignatian Solidarity Network. (n.d.). “An Ignatian Examen: Reconciling God, Creation and Humanity.” Office of Justice and Ecology of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. http://www.ecologicalexamen.org/.
National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education. Conversations on Jesuit Higher Education, fall 2020, No. 58. National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/56172221e4b0d3605b642f70/t/5f6ba1a02f3bb062c94004b2/1600889261228/Conv58web.pdf.
University of San Francisco. (n.d.). “Every Day Is Earth Day.” University of San Francisco. https://www.usfca.edu/about-usf/sustainability