The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life . . . Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. (Pope Francis, Laudato Sí no. 23, 2015)
I first read Laudato Sí in 2015. Pope Francis helped me to see the connections between faith and science, and ecology and spirituality. At the time, I was teaching programs of adult faith development and enrichment at my local church. I shared Pope Francis’ encyclical in several of our adult sessions. For the past six years, ecological justice and environmental ethics have been priorities in my reading and teaching.
My global travels, and especially my work with engineering professors in Latin America, helped me to see how connected we are to one another. I am more aware than ever of the inequities in lifestyle and opportunities for human flourishing among nations. I may not be able to change global production and consumption behaviors, but I can do my small part. I have been gifted with resources and opportunities to thrive, and now I try to consume less, want less, and share what I do have.
Beginning this week, I have the opportunity to share what I have learned with young people in college who are our hope for a better world. Laudato Si is one of three books that are required reading for the course. The challenge will be how to condense all that I have learned into a one-semester course, and inviting my students to share all that they have learned.