SASKATOON — Pope Francis’ Vision on Care for Our Common Home was explored during a recent Cathedral Series presented at St. Paul Co-Cathedral in Saskatoon by Sister Judy Schachtel, SMS, and Dr. Chris Hrynkow.
Released earlier this year, the papal encyclical Laudato Si’ (Praise be) presents a clear social teaching on the environment, participants heard during the introductory session of the three-evening series, organized through the diocesan Foundations: Exploring Our Faith Together program.
Schactel and Hrynkow outlined how Pope Francis’ encyclical is challenging human beings to see themselves in an intertwined relationship involving self, neighbour, creation and God.
“I love the fact that Pope Francis uses the term ‘our common home,’ ” said Schachtel, a facilitator with a background in culture and spirituality. “He helps us to realize that we are kin, and every part is necessary to the whole.”
As with a family home, there are some rules needed in living within our common home the earth, she added — rules such as “take only your share,” “clean up after yourself” and “keep your home in good repair for future generations.” Schachtel noted that the document highlights the intricacy of ecosystems that are profoundly connected to human beings in God’s creation.
“The earth is not a collection of objects to be exploited, but a community to be communed with.”
Readable, invitational and situated within Catholic Social Teaching, the encyclical is a call to conversion and practical action in caring for the environment and for the poor, said Hrynkow, an assistant professor in the Department of Religion and Culture at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan.
“These are issues which affect us all,” Hrynkow said, noting the document is addressed to everyone.
“It is a strong wake-up call to bear witness to all the negative effects of social and ecological degradation adversely affecting people and the planet.” It is also a call to justice, identifying a “grave social debt toward the poor,” who are neglected in a global system of overconsumption by some at the expense of others, he added.
“As Catholics we are called to wrestle with this document with an informed conscience,” said Hrynkow, noting the document’s authoritative nature. Laudato Si’ repeats teachings that were also highlighted by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, but Pope Francis’ style provides “amplification” of the call to care for the earth, he said. The pope’s earlier apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium also previewed these concerns, stating: “The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters” (EG #183).
Hrynkow noted, “Sin has a social and ecological dimension, in these broken relationships” with God, with each other and with creation.
The series included time for discussion about the challenges of the document, and a look at the practical implications of Pope Francis’ call to care for the earth and for our brothers and sisters who share this common home.
Topics addressed during the sessions Sept. 21, Sept. 28 and Oct. 3 included Integral Ecology and Our Common Home, as well as contemporary crises, ecological education, and eco-spirituality, and the Gospel of creation and green action.
Foundations: Exploring Our Faith Together is funded by the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. The diocesan program, co-ordinated by Sharon Powell of the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Saskatoon, provides topics and speakers to parishes and other groups interested in offering faith enrichment, in addition to offering multi-evening sessions, such as the Cathedral Series on Laudato Si’.