“We open space for collaboration between organizations and individuals across borders and regions. We work hand-in-hand with other Christians, other faith communities, and social and environmental movements as a single human family.”
The social and environmental challenges facing humanity require thoughtful and courageous bridge building. Jesus extended his ministry across social, geographic, and religious lines, accompanying people as diverse as the Samaritan woman (John 4) and the Roman centurion (Matthew 8). Similarly, those working for justice today are called to a broad vision which includes intentional collaboration with organizations and individuals that represent the diversity of those impacted by the current crises. Though deeply rooted in our Catholic tradition and identity, the Laudato Si’ Movement extends a hand in collaboration to all who share our concern for the Earth and the poor.
The threat of climate change can tempt people toward division – between rich and poor, between nations, and between social groups. In the face of this temptation, people of good will are called to work together in a way that respects differences while uniting in the pursuit of common goals. The bishops of Vatican II stress that the Catholic Church “is bound to no particular form of human culture, nor to any political, economic or social system” and so can “be a very close bond between diverse human communities and nations” (Gaudium et Spes, 42). Moreover, looking outside the Church itself, the Council affirms respect for “all the true, good and just elements inherent in the very wide variety of institutions which the human race has established for itself” (Gaudium et Spes, 42).
Bridge building is not just strategic, a means to an end. Rather, it acknowledges that the only just resolution to the world’s social and environmental problems is one that accepts and empowers people from all backgrounds and walks of life. As Pope Francis states, authentic development “presupposes an historical process which takes place within a cultural context and demands the constant and active involvement of local people from within their proper culture” (Laudato Si’, 144). Inclusive collaboration across borders, classes, and belief systems leads to enduring solutions that meet this standard.
The call to bridge building implies certain external actions – meetings, conferences, studies, and joint initiatives. In addition, it requires an internal openness to others and the cultivation of virtues such as patience, humility, respect, and generosity (Laudato Si’, 201). In this way, the work of bridge building can lead to a new network of global initiatives while also transforming the individual believer into a better and holier person, more readily equipped to navigate the challenges of a changing world.