by Jerry Green
Since becoming involved in the Stewards of the Earth committee, I’ve realized that while a concern for nature has always been in the back of my mind, the recent issue of climate change is a game changer. There is an urgency to our environmental stewardship because our degradation of the planet is reaching perilous proportions. It is for this reason Pope Francis issued his encyclical this past summer, Laudato Si’, On Care For Our Common Home. I’ve spent time studying this eighty-page document, which is addressed to “every person living on this planet,” and I’d like to share a concept it introduces: “Integral Ecology.” Integral Ecology emphasizes that everything is connected: human systems and ecosystems. We can’t separate ourselves or our jobs from nature. Francis writes, “A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
He is hopeful we can change our ways, and ourselves, for the better: “Spirituality can motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world. The ecological crisis is thus also a summons to a profound interior conversion, whereby the effects of encountering Jesus Christ become evident in one’s relationship with one’s surrounding world.”
In other words, as mercy, forgiveness, and care were shown to us, we are bound to extend the same to every person, animal, plant and mineral. Francis is urging us to deepen our notion of “Stewardship” to include an awareness of our interdependence and our communion with all that surrounds us. Where do we start? With what is right in front of us. We look beyond ourselves, to others, just as Christ did, and we respond to the cries we hear.