This year’s Laudato Si conference, sponsored by Catholic Climate Covenant and Creighton University, featured Cardinal Cupich of the Chicago Archdiocese. He offered his faith-filled perspective on the state of society and its connection to environmental degradation. He explained that we are experiencing one major crisis, an ecological emergency that is both social and environmental. He reiterated the words of Pope Francis in stating that we need a spiritual conversion, a transformation of the heart to change the world’s dangerous trajectory and leave it a better place for youth and future generations.
The main message for addressing this crisis, expressed by Cardinal Cupich, is the need for all people to make sacrifices and live a life of moderation, not excess and material desires; in turn, these types of personal gifts lead to true happiness. He explained that society needs to shift from the constant focus of economic growth toward human growth and development. He reminded us that Pope Francis asks people to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, to view ourselves as part of the human community – adopt a new way of thinking about human beings and creation; then, we will better care for one another and the planet.
Cardinal Cupich stated that we must move forward in faith and science and educate one another on ecology and environmental degradation, especially those who hold leadership positions. The daily news on more record-breaking heat, the inability of the Amazon rainforest to absorb more CO2 than it emits due to deforestation, sea-level rise, and so many other ecological calamities indicates that we must act now if we care about the future of the earth.
My young student recently told me that many of his generations believe they should be called the doomers. Throughout the pandemic, most people made the simple sacrifices of wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, and following other public health guidelines to benefit one another; however, many still need to get vaccinated. The enormous challenges we face with our ailing earth require us to consider many sacrifices by connecting more fully with one another and creation for the greater good. It is time to ensure our youth never feel like they are doomed due to our resistance to essential changes and sacrifices.
Thank you, Cardinal Cupich.
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~6 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work