Mercy responds to long-awaited encyclical
June 18, 2015
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas have been eagerly awaiting the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment and are pleased that in the document he has titled “Laudato Si” (“Be Praised” or “Praised Be”) he clearly connects concern for people who are poor with care for creation, which is central to us as Mercy. We believe this is one of the great moral issues of our time and for us a compelling and urgent call to respond.
In our ministries throughout the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Philippines, we see vividly the links between climate change and environmental degradation and the plight of immigrants, women and children, and those victimized by violence and racism. We worry about even greater suffering given forecasts for increased climate refugees, environmental-related conflicts and food crises if we do not act.
We welcome Pope Francis’ critique of the current, dominant economic model that prioritizes the market, profit and unharnessed consumption and regards Earth as a resource to be exploited. We hope that world leaders at the United Nations Summit to Adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda in September and international climate talks in Paris in December, will take heed of the Pope’s moral imperative to work for a more just and sustainable world.
Pope Francis calls for both bold, coordinated international actions and a recognition that “there is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions.” As Sisters of Mercy we feel compelled to do our part. On a systemic level, we advocate for public policies that would reduce carbon emissions, support development that prioritizes the needs of the Earth and persons who are poor, and ensure that impoverished countries have the resources they need to address climate change. We use our influence as socially responsible investors to engage companies in reducing water consumption and carbon emissions and building sustainable food systems. We invest in projects that are expanding solar and renewable energy capacity and bringing affordable clean energy to the economically poor.
An increasing number of our administrative centers and residences, healthcare and educational institutions, and social service ministries are installing solar panels, developing composting programs, recycling electronics, and purchasing electric vehicles and promoting public transportation. As individuals, we dedicate our lives and ministries to protecting creation in myriad ways. Our faith and call will only be enlivened by the Pope’s words.
We look forward to prayerfully reading and reflecting on the encyclical in the days and weeks to come and discerning even deeper responses we can make. We will invite our sisters, associates, companions, co-workers, volunteers and friends to join in these responses, which will include urging world leaders to pledge significant reductions in carbon emissions at the international climate talks as well as considering new practices ourselves to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels and act in harmony and interdependence with all creation.
- A letter from sisters and others who minister with the Sisters of Mercy on social justice issues detailing their hopes for the encyclical in a letter to Pope Francis in early March.
- A graphic illustrating how climate change impacts some of the Sisters of Mercy’s key issues.