Laudato Si’ Quote

67. We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judaeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1); to him belongs “the earth with all that is within it” (Dt 10:14). Thus God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev 25:23). 

Reflection: “We are not God.” This passage from Laudato Si’ reminds us why biblical hermeneutics matters (on many issues not only this one!) The lenses through which we have interpreted the creation accounts have often left us with “domination” and not “tilling and keeping” of the earth. Reflect this week on the ways in which you live on the earth and use its resources as a ‘stranger and sojourner.” 

Action: Re-read Genesis Chapters 1-3 again, no matter how many times you have read them before. Pay attention to the words and phrases that speak to you now. How do your own lenses, your own hermeneutics, shape what you read and how you read it. Reflect on your own “conversion” to a new ecological spirituality and understanding of these passages. Share your experience with someone else.

Prayer for Ukraine and for Peace

Georgetown University’s Initiative for Catholic Social Thought and Public Life held an excellent online dialogue last week on “War in Ukraine: Human Agony, Global Crisis, Moral Principles” with over 1500 people participating. You can view the full video of the dialogue here.

Dismantling Racism

Sr. Thea Bowman, FSPA, was a dynamic Catholic religious sister who lived her life fully proclaiming the Gospel in everything she did. Georgetown University is renaming one of their chapels in her name, and they are hosting a dialogue about her life on Tuesday, May 3rd, 6-7:15 p.m. Eastern. The panel includes: Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Sr. Patty Chappell, SNDdeN, Shannen Dee Williams, and Ogechi Akalegbere. For more information and to register (it will be live streamed) click here.

Climate Change

Think about what you eat. Just think about each thing you eat this week – where it came from, how far it traveled, what it took to cook it, how many hands touched it. The impact of what we eat has a huge impact on not only our health but on the environment as well. Consider this: all of our food systems are being affected by drought, floods, rising temperatures, and fires, all results of climate change. Read this powerful article from The Guardian about the limits on the diversity of our food supply given climate change. It uses the banana as an example and has great graphics to learn about our fruits and vegetables! 

All change begins with one small step. Commit yourself to reading the Laudato Si’ reflection each week. One paragraph at a time you can stop and reflect on what we are all called to as a Laudato Si’ community!

Human Trafficking

The commitment for this year is on Online Child Exploitation. If this is the only thing you view this week, watch this to realize what we are facing. It’s only two minutes long, but it speaks volumes. Watch here.

Please plan to attend the online sex trafficking event on May 11th! Click Here

online event


Justice for Immigrants

The lack of a comprehensive immigration policy in the United States is devastating to all those who seek safety. Title 42, a public health policy used since March 2020 to quickly return migrants crossing the Mexico border, was to end on May 23rd. That has now been delayed by a court ruling, a decision that has some bipartisan support. The concerns are that there is no adequate preparation to process the expected 18,000 migrants a day once Title 42 is lifted. In the meantime, people are languishing at the border and in temporary facilities. The Supreme Court also has heard arguments for the end to the Migrant Protection Protocols, better known as the “Remain In Mexico”” program, which forces migrants from a third country who attempt to enter the US through Mexico to remain in Mexico while their claims for asylum are processed. There are not enough detention beds to hold those who are waiting for asylum hearings, hearings which are also backed up for years in some cases. We need a comprehensive immigration policy!

Haiti Partnership

Take a virtual Zoom tour of Haiti through the eyes of our partnership with Beyond Borders. It’s a 45-minute video tour that will not only show you the beauty of Haiti and her people, but the work that is made possible because of the partnership with SSND. The tour is offered at several specific times and dates over the next month, so sign up now! Limeteze Pierre-Gilles, SSND is the contact person for the tour. 

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