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Laudato Si’ Action Platform

Laudato Si’ Action Platform

We all feel well-informed and probably overwhelmed at the various stresses and crises Earth is facing as a consequence of shifts in climate patterns. The grim word is pretty well out, now, and the more immediate issues involve what to do, how to respond! It’s tempting, when we are faced with something as large and complicated as climate change to despair, deny, ignore. But the Dominican Sisters, along with many other people of goodwill, imagination, and determination are seeing the crisis as also offering an opportunity. Surely it is a crisis, but it also invites us to make a productive response, one that we might have missed if we did not face the challenges Earth and her creatures, ourselves included, are facing.

Pope Francis offered all people of goodwill such an opportunity in 2015 with his letter, Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home, which lays out the issues in scientific, economic, and ethical terms and also invites them to respond in fresh, creative, practical ways. Because the letter is so comprehensive in its analysis, it has become a hub of positive activity at many levels for those wishing a smart and supportive group in which to do their work. The Dominican Sisters threw a party on the feast of St. Francis (10/4/2022) which inaugurated our response and that of friends and companions who wished to join in. The primary way to “join” across Earth has been to develop a specific plan for which we will be accountable, to “register it” on the worldwide Action Platform, and then to move to accomplish it. The Sisters have agreed to an Action Platform Plan and continue to welcome OPartners to work to implement it. Our action items are to increase our care with water and to decrease our dependence on carbon, but there is much more to the Plan than that.

One of the most powerful and radical concepts around which Pope Francis organizes is the invitation to integral ecology. Like many huge ideas, it is deceptively simple: Integral ecology invites us to see all creatures as intimately related and deeply embedded with the creator and God’s ongoing projects. Counter to a more classic (Greco-Roman and traditional theological) frame of reference that ranks creatures hierarchically, with God at the top, followed by angels, then humans, down to … maybe cockroaches and bacteria. In this older framework, dominant for the past 2500 years in the Western world and intensified since the 17th century or so, the “higher creatures” may use the “lower creatures” as they please, for whatever uses and at whatever costs. Integral ecology, on the other hand, invites us to see kinship in place of edges. Differences abound, of course, but many fresh relationships are possible. Categories long familiar and seeming natural loosen as new relationships emerge. Water is our sibling, and other Earthlings that suffer from too much carbon become a matter of deep concern. Allies are at hand, and many of God’s creatures are relieved that humans are waking up to the challenge of caring for the Home Common to all.

The Sisters invite OPartners to work on our particular plan, as indeed many parishes, workplaces, schools, and families are joining energies. We have two groups: one that has planning responsibilities and another who are implementing facets of interest to them. General OPartners are working with water districts to find ways in which water can be more efficiently used. Some in the general OPartner group are exploring some of the work in West Marin with bovines (male and female cattle) so that our food choices can be better informed. Others are working on a label project, where we learn what specific labels actually legitimately claim. Some are working to recycle things that no one wants: e.g., cigarette butts! Part of what in integrally ecological here is our experience that while we are doing tangible things and helping other creatures out, we are also strengthening our inner ethical core and being helped by many unlikely allies. Who knew that bending over to pick up trash and learning what cows can (not) do could be a spiritual practice?

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform process is worldwide but organized locally, and there is space and welcome for all. If you want to work with the Dominican Sisters as an OPartner, we welcome you. The general OPartners meet monthly, first Tuesday 10:45-11:45 am, each in person or by Zoom. Opportunities abound, and creativity flourishes. Meet new (and old) friends and help Earth recover health. The health you improve will also be your own, our own—all of Our Own Wellbeing.

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Preachers of  Truth • Love • Justice