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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Five years after the signature encyclical of Francis' papacy, the pope highlights in a handbook how best to care for the earth.
As a continuation of a five-year celebration of the encyclical Laudato Sí, the Vatican has released a 225-page environmentalist manual reminding Catholics how they can contribute to a greener, healthier world.
Titled Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home, the compendium suggests practical steps to achieve the goals set down in the encyclical, which presumes man-made climate change is real and supports agreements to contain the purported phenomenon of global warming.
The pope reaffirmed support for respecting human rights, bans on child labor and protection of the environment. One action point in the compendium calls on Catholics to "shun companies that are harmful to human or social ecology, such as abortion and armaments, and to the environment, such as fossil fuels."
Clearly siding with environmentalism in the longstanding tug-of-war to find a right balance between business and the environment, or the economy and ecology, the handbook implores Catholics to defend the rights of local populations to have a say in whether their lands can be used for oil or mineral extraction, the handbook says, and the right to take strong stands against companies that cause environmental disasters or that over-exploit natural resources such as forests.
A group of religious sisters have heard the pope's call. Sixteen U.S. congregations of Dominican sisters have pooled more than $46 million to establish a new investment funds initiative aimed at addressing climate change and achieving the United Nations' (U.N.'s) Sustainable Development Goals The sisters provided initial seeding in 2018 for the funds, which — with additional capital investments — has grown to $130 million.
"We wanted to make sure that the climate transition was also attending to environmental justice and also integrating other related impacts of climate change, such as water and food and other impacts on women," said Sr. Pat Daly, a Caldwell Dominican who played a leading role in the funds' formation.
In May, more than 40 faith organizations from around the world, more than half of which were Catholic, pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies.
Pope Francis recently set aside nine days to celebrate Laudato Sí "week" to issue a series of tweets explaining the heart of his vision of an integral ecology. The observance ended on May 24, exactly five years from the promulgation of Laudato Sí.
His mini-catechesis on Twitter began with an invitation: "Let us care for all of creation, which is a gift of the good God, our Creator. Let us celebrate Laudato Sí Week."
After that encouragement to care for what is ultimately God's for our own good, the Pope issued a call to action: "I urgently appeal for renewed dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affects us all."
This clarion call for everyone to get involved for the future of the planet and the human race was followed by a third, more specific tweet: "All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents."
In his fourth tweet, Francis adopted a more reflective tone, with a message reflecting his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology and animals: "When we can see God reflected in all that exists, our hearts are moved to praise the Lord for all his creatures and to worship him in union with them."
His next tweet focused on what it means to be personal: "The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures."
On May 21 Francis tweeted, "This life is the gift that God has given us. It is too short to be spent in sadness. Let us praise God, content simply to exist. We are children of the great King, capable of reading His signature in all Creation."
The next day, U.N. International Day for Biological Diversity, the pope tweeted, "Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence. We have no such right. #Biodiversity."
On May 23 his message suggested that care for the ecology is part of the Catholic faith: "Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion. Jesus reminded us that we have God as our common Father and that this makes us brothers and sisters."
And in his last tweet for Laudato Sí week, the pope concluded with, "An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us."