Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy offers the first of many thoughtful reflections on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’, Mi Signore.
The summer news cycle has been marked by the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment entitled Laudato Si’, Mi Signore. Perhaps you have read it and more than likely you have read and heard about it. This year our articles will attempt to take a Franciscan look at the encyclical in monthly bites so that we can share an understanding of the Pope’s challenge to us as we this claim this planet as a common home with all God’s children.
Foundational to understanding the message, we may first benefit from reviewing what an encyclical is. The Catholic Encyclopedia states: According to its etymology, an encyclical is a circular letter. In modern times, the term has come to apply to papal documents explicitly addressed to the bishops of the Universal Church. They condemn some error, point out dangers which threaten faith or morals, or exhort the Body of Christ to remain faithful. Although not an ex cathedra statement, the very fact that the Pope chooses to speak on the topics of his encyclicals lends them importance and calls us to take the teachings seriously.
Laudato Si’, Mi Signore is categorized as a social encyclical. These documents apply consistent, traditional, moral teachings of the Church to social and economic challenges of the current day. There have been many such social writings over the centuries. However, this is the first to deal with the topic of the earth’s environment.
Watch for more comments as to why this encyclical is so significant to us as Franciscans!