Our Responsibility

by Ruth Coyne, Former Ignatian Volunteer  

Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens….

Praise the LORD from the earth….

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted;

his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

And he has raised up for his people a horn,

 the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel,

the people close to his heart. Praise the LORD. (Psalm 148)


In Laudato Si Pope Francis reminds us, faithful servants, of our responsibility toward the environment, our common home. He reminds us that the elements of the world are connected, and he emphasizes the dignity and importance of each person, calling special attention to the connection between the poor people of the world and the environment.

Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, 

In Laudato Si Pope Francis offers a reflection on some of the ills that endanger our planet: various kinds of pollution, global warming, the importance of biodiversity. He assesses the changes in power structures resulting from new technology. He reflects upon the ways in which we define progress.

…lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, 

Pope Francis reminds us that we must take what we need from the earth, but take no more than that. Our current level of consumption is not sustainable for a safe and heathy environment.

you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis reminds each of us of our responsibility. What are we to do? In line with Catholic social teaching, Francis suggests that we must take very seriously our own responsibility for the planet.

wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, 

Taking responsibility is the difficulty. What is a person to do, and how? Pope Francis mentions structures which need to be changed. This is well beyond the capability of a single person. Social and political institutions have real power because they make the status quo legitimate and routine. But, too often they look past the needs of the poor.

kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, 

We are not alone in this. We are part of a community of concern. We can act with them, and also act as individuals. With prayer, reflection, and education each of us can determine what we must do, and act upon our faith.

Pope Francis offers us direction. Now we must move, for as he says in the encyclical, “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”

…young men and women, old men and children.  Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

Weekly Reflections on Justice is produced by the Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach staff, volunteers, interns, Columban parishioners, Columban Missionaries, and friends of the Columbans. We hope these reflections help to guide you in your own spiritual journey working toward justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.