Introduction - Action Plan
On Thursday June 18, 2015, Pope Francis released his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si’, or “Praised Be” from the words of St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of Brother Sun.” In his encyclical, the Holy Father stated that: “If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.” Pope Francis urges that “all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” This will not be an easy task, however, and will require “honesty, courage and responsibility,” as “humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption.” But asserting that “truly, much can be done,” he reassures us that “local individuals and groups can make a real difference.”
The Action Plan found within the online Laudato Si' Action Plan contains a menu of options that parishes and parishioners can take to start the difficult spiritual work of reversing the threat of global climate change and environmental degradation, and existing more sustainably in harmony with God's creation. Because there is so much variety and diversity between parishes in terms of human and financial resources, the menu of options presented here are ranked easy, moderate, and advanced.
Everyone is encouraged to go as far as they can in implementing Laudato Si'. More importantly, all Catholics are urged by Pope Francis to seek the change of heart that is required to make these actions part of their daily lives.
This Action Plan also provides links to other resources that pastoral staff and parishioners can access to learn more and carry out the actions they select. The links consist of web pages where Catholics can drill deeper into each topic, such as finding out how to get an energy audit for your parish or home; calculating your family's carbon footprint; learning about native plants for your parish or home garden, or how to generate support for national policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As Laudato Si' observes, the most critical environmental challenge that we face is the threat of global climate change. However, as Pope Francis observes "avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices," are also needed to address our "responsibility within creation, and [our] duty towards nature and the Creator."
Some may fear that the Pope's encyclical is an attack on our economic values and way of life. To the contrary, His Holiness asserts that: "business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the areas in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good." What Pope Francis asks of us is a "profound interior conversion" that will come from "major paths of dialogue" and lead us toward a future in which "all people can prosper personally and economically in harmony with the gifts God has given us in nature."