Laudato Si': On Care for Our Common Home

25 June 2015 | General Interest

With joy, Nga Whaea Atawhai o Aotearoa Sisters of Mercy New Zealand received the encyclical Laudato Si (Praised Be): On the Care for Our Common Home.

At our 2014 Chapter, we committed ourselves to ‘Whakawhanaungatanga making right relationship with self, others, God and Earth. We are encouraged that throughout Laudato Si Pope Francis has a similar focus on right relationship when he states: ‘If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships’ (119).

The Encyclical provides us with new perspectives on issues in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. We shall be enabled in our efforts to work for change in our daily lives and to influence policy makers. We do this in the context of our responsibilities within Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Housing:
Housing is of growing concern as shown recently by the known deaths of two people because of inadequate housing needs. Factors include availability, affordability, poor insulation and maintenance: ‘Not only the poor, but many other members of society as well, find it difficult to own a home. Having a home has much to do with a sense of personal dignity and a growth of families. This is a major issue for human ecology.’ (152)

Climate Change/Ocean Health/ Pacific Islands:
The deterioration of the environment globally has had a significant impact on Climate Change and Ocean Health. These issues are of major concern to Aotearoa and the Pacific. Climate Change leads to sea level rising, more violent weather events and ocean acidification. The exploitation of fishing within Pacific waters leads to depletion of fish stocks. In all these cases the most vulnerable nation states suffer the most; for as Pope Francis alludes to, they have not the resources or they have nowhere else to go. (48)

Water Quality:
Water Quality within Aotearoa New Zealand is of growing concern because of increased commercial and primary production usage. Our country has had abundant water supplies. Only in recent years with the increase in the number of droughts and the noticeable change in water quality in our rivers and lakes are people beginning to notice and question water quality and consumption. There has been little change made on how water is consumed. This is reflected in local and national policy level. Pope Francis makes comment on this: ‘Water supplies used to be relatively constant, but now in many places demand exceeds the sustainable supply, with dramatic consequences in the short and long term. Large cities dependent on significant supplies of water have experienced periods of shortage, and at critical moments these have not always been administered with sufficient oversight and impartiality.’ (28)

We pray that leaders of nations and corporations as well as the ordinary person on the street take the time to read, ponder this encyclical and act to build right relationship in all their actions and works. We pray in particular that the Sustainable Development Goals are fully endorsed and a commitment to action is made by Nation States at the UN in September, ensuring that the rights of the most vulnerable are protected and enhanced.

May the message of the encyclical also empower Leaders of Nation States to commit themselves fully to the talks and decisions that come out of the Climate Change Summit in December thereby creating a just and sustainable world for future generations.

We join Pope Francis in his Christian Prayer in union with Creation – ‘Awaken our praise and thankfulness for every being that you have made. Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.’ (246)
 

Click here to read the full text of Laudate Si'