Your Voice: Pope’s encyclical, one year later

To the editor:

Charles Morris
Fr. Charles Morris (contributed photo)

One year ago this week, Pope Francis issued a clarion call to Catholics and people of conscience the world over. Caring for the earth we share—our Common Home—“is not an optional or a secondary aspect” of our faith, he wrote. “Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue.”

As we commemorate the anniversary of the encyclical, let us reflect on the Pope’s message.

How can we (better) integrate Earth care into our spiritual lives? What are we doing to respond to this call?

Many religious communities are deeply involved in caring for the “least of these” in their ministries. These works enrich our communities and provide much needed support for the poor and the vulnerable.

But the Pope’s encyclical encourages us to love our neighbors as ourselves in a bigger, broader way. As Christians, we cannot commence to protect our air, land and water only after the hungry are fed, after the poor are sheltered, and after the sick have been healed. Social ecology and natural ecology—humanity and the Earth we share—make up a single web of life.

To protect life, we must also care for our Earth. To heed the cry of the poor, we must also heed the cry of the Earth. For it is the poor, as the Pope so powerfully asserts, who suffer the most from environmental degradation, pollution and climate change.

The organization I founded, Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, seeks to inspire and equip congregations to exercise stewardship of and love for God’s Creation. And one of the best ways we can live more sustainably and simply is to use energy wisely—from the gasoline in our cars, to the electricity that illuminates our sanctuaries, to the power that keeps us comfortable in our homes.

This summer, Michigan Interfaith Power & Light is working with Consumers Energy and the cities of Farmington and Farmington Hills to educate faith communities on how to save energy, save money and protect the Earth in their homes.

Saving energy is a spiritual calling, a matter of sensible household economics, and a way to support Greater Farmington’s bid to take home the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize.

On the encyclical anniversary, how is God calling us here in Farmington and Farmington area to protect Creation both for this generation and for generations to come? In this time, what is our Great Work to which to Pope calls us?

Calling Michigan Interfaith Power & Light is a great way to begin. We can do a workshop at your congregation, provide you with do-it- yourself resources-, and connect you with free energy efficiency products and services. We hope you’ll reach out: 248-537- 9175.

Fr. Charles Morris
Madonna University