By Cian Molloy - 17 May, 2020
On the fifth anniversary of the publication of Pope Francis’s landmark encyclical letter, Laudato ‘Si, Bishop Mark
O’Toole of Plymouth has called on the faithful to reflect on how they may work to protect and preserve the glory of God’s creation.
Noting that this month is a month that Catholics set aside for venerating Our Lady, mother of God, the bishop says that May is a month when we remember Mary’s important role in creation and it is a time too for recalling the beauty of God’s creation.
Noting that the current Pope is the first to take on the pontifical name ‘Francis’, Bishop O’Toole says that the spirit and vision of St Francis Assisi is evident throughout the encyclical.
“There are two ideas which especially permeate what Pope Francis teaches us,” says the second-generation Irishman, who was born in London of Irish-speaking parents from Connemara.
“The first is the idea of ‘our common home’. Our earth is the home for the human family. It is in severe danger and needs immediate protection and healing at a global, national and local level. The second idea is that while the threatened state of the environment is a universal challenge affecting us all, those most in danger at present, and in the future, are those who are already poor and vulnerable.”
Pope Francis constantly links these two realities throughout our letter, says Bishop O’Toole: the need to protect and respect ‘our common home’ and the need to respect and protect the dignity and lives of the poor.
“For me, Laudato ‘Si needs to be read not only as a work of Catholic social teaching, but also as an example of proclaiming our faith anew. It is an important contribution to the work of the New Evangelization,” says Bishop O’Toole.
“The letter reflects a profound confidence and openness to the world. Pope Francis draws on an ecumenical and interdisciplinary range of authorities – from scientists, saints and theologians to international agencies; from other world religious leaders to previous popes and Catholic bishops’ conferences. He even quotes a Sufi mystic in one of his footnotes!”
The bishop suggests that Catholics consult online resources about Laudato ‘Si on the websites of agencies such as Trócaire and, its UK equivalent, CAFOD. He says: “Let us especially become more familiar with the many things that are already happening in our parishes and schools regarding Laudato ‘Si. “
In particular, the bishop invited the faithful to recite a prayer especially composed by the Pontifical Council for Integral Development to mark the fifth anniversary. The words of the prayer, to be said daily, are as follows:
Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them,
You created us in your image and made us stewards of all your creation, of our common home.
You blessed us with the sun, water and bountiful land so that all might be nourished.
Open our minds and touch our hearts,
so that we may attend to your gift of creation.
Help us to be conscious that our common home belongs not only to us,
but to all future generations, and that it is our responsibility to preserve it.
May we help each person secure the food and resources that they need.
Be present to those in need in these trying times,
especially the poorest and those most at risk of being left behind.
Transform our fear, anxiety and feelings of isolation into hope
so that we may experience a true conversion of the heart.
Help us to show creative solidarity
in addressing the consequences of this global pandemic.
Make us courageous to embrace the changes
that are needed in search of the common good.
Now more than ever, may we feel that we are all interconnected,
in our efforts to lift up the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen