“We cultivate a “culture of care” (LS 231) for one another, ourselves, and all living beings that share our common home. We honor each other’s gifts and limitations. We celebrate our relationships.”
Caring for one another and for the environment is a central message in Laudato Si’. Pope Francis proposes that we think of our relationship with the world and with all people in terms of caring. On this, Cardinal Turkson remarks that “Care goes further than “stewardship”. Good stewards take responsibility and fulfill their obligations to manage and render an account. But one can be a good steward without feeling connected. If one cares, however, one is connected. To care is to allow oneself to be affected by another, so much so that one’s path and priorities change.” (Cardinal Turkson)
Caring for one another is a fundamental Christian principle of love. John 13: 34-35 says “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” Consequently, we are called to love by caring for one another as much as the earth, our common home. St. Paul says, “Through love, be servants of one another” (Gal 5:13). Pope Francis encourages us to develop a culture of care based on love. “Along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a ‘culture of care’ which permeates all of society….” (LS 231). We tangibly show love for our neighbours when we act in ways that promote their good. Who is our neighbour? When Jesus was asked that question, he responded with the story of the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37. the Good Samaritan poured oil and wine into the wounds of the stranger who lay helpless on the road to Jericho and set him on the road to recovery. Each one of us can go and do likewise, especially to the poor and the needy.
The Catholic social teaching principle of the option for the poor and vulnerable encourages us to imitate Christ’s love for the poor by working to create a society where the needs of the poor are always considered first, especially knowing that they are the ones who suffer the worst consequences of the climate crisis. In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes, ‘the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters. This option entails recognizing the implications of the universal destination of the world’s goods…’ (LS 158). Further, Pope Francis proposes an “ecological conversion” (Laudato Si’, 219), which of course requires the practice of “ecological virtues.” (Laudato Si’, 88) This conversion implies that individuals and companies put the search for the “common good” at the centre of their concerns. (Laudato Si’, 158–159). This makes individuals less centred on themselves and opens them up to solidarity, not only with the various types of poor people and endangered species but also with future generations – listening and sharing our journey as pilgrims.
As such caring for each other embodies a synodal process whereby we journey together as people of God. Through caring, we listen and dialogue with each other and with creation for the common good. In this way, as members of Laudato Si Movement, we walk together in synodality and communion with the universal Church on a journey of ecological conversion.