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Local Catholics respond to pope’s environmental encyclical

July 10, 2015
Christina Gray

Here’s a sampling of reaction to Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudito Si’,” On Care for Our Common Home,” by archdiocesan parishioners, men and women religious, church workers and Catholic leaders who finished reading the 180-page, 40,000-word document. Responses received by the paper ranged from wildly supportive to mildly critical.


“The Sisters of the Presentation are especially delighted with Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change. He has affirmed one of our congregational justice goals – to do all in our power to fight the conditions that lead to global climate change. His integral approach to the moral and justice issues that are related to, or flow from climate change – poverty, hunger, migration of peoples, always disproportionally affecting the poor – is an approach that calls all of us to action for justice; justice for the Earth and for all its peoples.

Presentation Sister Rosemary McKean, San Francisco


By the Pope’s calling this most serious issue to the attention of all, not only Catholics, we can pray that people of good will everywhere will heed his call, and examine their own need for lifestyle change, and contribute to the healing of the Earth community.

Dominican Sisters of San Rafael


“It takes a strong person with courage to stand up and say these things on a global stage. The encyclical is really asking us to be human, to be a part of the human community, to respect and care for what God has given us so we, and others of God’s community, may enjoy and be cared for by this wondrous gift which we have so far taken for granted.

“The concepts of the encyclical will be opposed by many because it requires change – change to areas of life we have yet to embrace or understand – it requires the denial of the corruption which we have learned to accept as the way to survive and make gains over others: It will be difficult but, as shown, necessary. Now as members of the community of humanity the encyclical calls us together, regardless of religion or even faith, to save this Earth and our children’s Earth. This encyclical needs to be passed to all as it is for humanity and not just Catholics.”

Will Silverthorne, St. Rita Parish, Fairfax


“I’m pleased that Pope Francis talked about concern for the protection of nature being incompatible with the justification of abortion, research using human embryos, and population control. But I think he missed an opportunity to elaborate on examples explaining why resorting to contraception and abortion to slow population growth is shortsighted. Not only does this disrespect God’s greatest creation – mankind – but in practice, population control has been used as a weapon against the poor, which has not met with acceptable environmental or humanitarian results.

Vicki Evans, Respect Life Coordinator, Archdiocese of San Francisco


“It was kind of a pleasant surprise that it was so holistic and so well organized and really focused on how we change our view of what human life and human happiness and fulfilment is.”

Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, founder of Ignatius Press, San Francisco


“I may be mistaken but the Holy Father seems to be calling us not just to be better stewards of God’s creation but he’s calling us to be more holy: ‘The external deserts in the world are growing because the internal deserts have become so vast.’ The ecology crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. A profound message for those who read it to the end.”

Father Larry Goode, pastor, St. Francis of Assisi Church, East Palo Alto


“I am very glad to read that Pope Francis repudiated any form of population control as a means of addressing today’s environmental concerns. ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it,’ God’s first commandment to humans in the Bible, is as relevant today as it was ‘In the beginning.’”

Rob Graffio, vice chancellor, Archdiocese of San Francisco


“I think it is clear, that as leader of the Catholic Church and in his personal life, Pope Francis will always work to protect the poor… As Catholics we should feel good that Pope Francis is providing the leadership and has taken this step toward good stewardship of this Earth.”

Tony Medunic, St. Isabella Parish, San Rafael


“The Mercy Sisters see the encyclical as a reinforcement of their longtime efforts and their advocacy for a policy which strongly supports the environment. We believe climate change 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.”

The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy, Burlingame


“The first great teaching is in the title of the encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” words of praise spoken by St. Francis of Assisi to Our Lord. We should hear the joy and the contrition in this exultation of the poor one, il poverello, whose example of holy service and simplicity should inspire us all today.

Ultimately, the pope’s encyclical is our best hope of conversion to a healthier understanding of the divinely desired relationship between humanity and the world that God has given us in trust as not only our home but also as our place of encounter with God. Our stewardship will be holy only to the extent that we remain obedient to, and attentive to God, who asks us to care for all of creation, for all of creation is destined for perfection in the second coming of Christ. But for us to become holy in this universal vocation, we need to leave behind an anthropocentric, utilitarian mindset and retrieve a theocentric, teleological union of mind and heart.”

Jesuit Father Paul Fitzgerald, president, University of San Francisco


“This pontificate is marked by a very pastoral approach to human problems. I was surprised that his pastoral approach comes out so strongly. I was expecting more political-economic gobbledygook or Vatican boilerplate and I was really struck, and moved even, by the profound understanding he has of the human condition and how he sees our ecological problems of symptomatic of a larger problem.”

Vivian Dudro, editor, Ignatius Press, San Francisco


“Pope Francis is asking Catholics and all persons of good will to collaborate in caring for our earthly home. Every element of creation has the mark of the creator. Without God, nothing would be in existence. With bodies made from chemicals of the earth, yet each blessed with an eternal soul, humans have a unique and transcendent place within creation. We contemplate a sunset, marvel at the stars and the planets, treasure the beauty of a child who is filled with joy and wonder. Also, honored with free choice, we produce garbage and waste that may never be integrated back into the natural world. We pray to be worthy recipients and worthy stewards of the abundant gifts God is giving to us every moment of our lives.”

Basilian Father Anthony Giampietro, archdiocesan interim development director

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