Caring for our Common Home
This summer, surrounded by the lush greenery of Shinjuku Gyoen Park, youths exclaimed “Hello brother ant!” and “There is beauty from God all around us!”.
After a month of learning and preparation under the Laudato Si’ Animators Program, we were filled with joy as we held the “Care for our Common Home” event, where we welcomed 23 SIIYM members (St. Ignatius International Youth Ministry) to ecological conversion.
What is ecological conversion?
Ecological conversion is a transformation of hearts and minds toward greater love of God, one another and creation, while acknowledging our human contribution to the social and ecological crisis of Earth - our common home.
Following the Opening Prayer of “The Canticle of Creatures” (a song that praises God’s creation) from St. Francis of Assisi (Patron Saint of the Environment) and the “Noah’s Ark” game, Kotoe explained how human-related activities such as burning fossil fuels for electricity/transportation, and manufacturing goods/food emit greenhouse gases (CO2, methane etc.) and can cause climate change, leading to an increasing amount of extreme weather catastrophes and climate migrants all over the world.
Next, Camille introduced Laudato Si’ and summarized the main takeaways of each chapter.
What is Laudato Si’?
Laudato Si’ is the second encyclical (document with highest level of authority written by a pope) written by Pope Francis. There are 6 Chapters:
- 1. What is Happening to Our Common Home
- 2. The Gospel of Creation
- 3. The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
- 4. Integral Ecology
- 5. Lines of Approach and Action
- 6. Ecological Education and spirituality
- In Chapter 1, Pope Francis begins by discussing how recent scientific research has focused on environmental problems. He also discusses other environmental problems in addition to climate change. The Pope makes it clear that the damage on the environment affects the poor the most.
- Chapter 2 then calls people to recall the Story of Creation and the Fall of Adam and Eve, and how many misinterpret humans being created in God’s image as “humans being able to do whatever they want with the earth.” The Pope reminds everyone that while we reap the fruits of the earth, we must also take very good care of the earth.
- Chapter 3 focuses on the gravity of the effects of man’s actions on the environment. The Pope calls to attention the selfishness and greed of man, and the obsession of man with power that has led to the abuse as well of children, the elderly, and animals. The Pope reminds everyone to recall their interconnectedness with nature in
Chapter 4. He says that social and environmental problems are connected, and the solutions for environmental problems must also affect social problems.
Everyone, especially leaders and governments around the world, must work together and the Pope calls on them to take action in
- Chapter 5. Pope Francis recognizes that there is some action taking place, but it is not enough. Leaders are asked to think about the social and environmental impact of their decisions. Finally, in
- Chapter 6, the Pope calls everyone to also change their lifestyle. Environmental education has played a role in informing many about environmental problems, but more has to be done aside from sharing information—there is also a need to teach values. The Pope discusses how teaching values helps motivates others to change their habits.
Pope Francis says “.. the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest.”
By Camille Cheang, Mariel Rubio, Kotoe Kuroda (SIIYM)