Novena to St. Peregrine – Day 3

PergMosaic1Day Three – Prayer for Hope

Rm 5:2-5
Let us exult, too, in our sufferings, understanding that suffering develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

O Lord Jesus, you are the source of all healing and hope. We walk with uncertainty in the face of cancer or other illness. We feel weak, frightened, and helpless, and all seems dark. Reach into that darkness to take us by the hand. Fill us with the warmth and light of your presence. With you beside us to support us, we can face our trials with strength and hope. Thank you for your healing presence.

Our Father, who art in heaven…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…

Dear St. Peregrine, brother and friend, faithful Servant of Mary, kindly listen to our plea. In your own distress, you went to the cross and to Christ hanging there, dwelling in prayerful hope throughout the dark night. You were gifted with healing and now live in the blessed light of God. We ask you to intercede for us that the Lord may grant us also healing, hope, light, and a lifting of the ills that trouble us. May we also rejoice, as you did, in the daylight of restored health.

May God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose holiness shines forth in you, St. Peregrine, receive all honor and glory forever. Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for us.

(You may leave your personal petitions at our Facebook page.)

Novena to St. Peregrine – Day 2

PergMosaic1Day Two – Prayer for Trust

Ps 62: 8-9

In God is my salvation and glory,
My rock of strength;
In God is my refuge.
Trust him at all times, O people.

Pour out your hearts before him,
For God is our refuge.

Lord Jesus, you are the source of all goodness and the Word of Faith for all. At the Last Supper, when the disciples were plunged into confusion and anxiety, you told them to trust in you, and that you were going to prepare a place for them. You also promised that not a hair of their heads would be harmed. In the midst of fear and uncertainty, show us how to strengthen our trust in your will. Rid us of our bitterness, doubts, resentments, and fears, that we may truly know and experience the wonderful things you promise those who place their trust in you.

Our Father, who art in heaven…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…

Dear St. Peregrine, brother and friend, faithful Servant of Mary, kindly listen to our plea. You showed patience and found strength in your infirmity, always trusting that the Lord, in his goodness and mercy, would hear and answer your prayers. Intercede for us, we pray, that we may also face our trials with courageous hearts, never doubting the goodness of the Lord, and trusting in his healing mercy.

May God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose holiness shines forth in you, St. Peregrine, receive all honor and glory forever. Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for us.

(You may leave your personal petitions at our Facebook page.)

Novena to St Peregrine – Day 1

PergMosaic1It should be consoling to every sick person to know that he or she does not suffer alone. Throughout the world, others are afflicted as well. All of us, by our crosses and trials, can assume an active role in the work of redemption. St. Peregrine, miraculously healed of a cancerous wound, assisted Christ in this noble apostolate of suffering through his own experience of illness and pain. There is significance in the fact that St. Peregrine was healed at the foot of the cross. The miracle might have occurred in a sick bed or a shrine. But it didn’t. St. Peregrine’s healing took place before the cross where all who are sick must eventually find themselves if they wish to participate in the redemptive action of Jesus Christ.

Today we begin our Novena to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of those suffering from cancer and other serious illness, leading up to his Feast Day on May 4th. Please join us in these nine days of prayer

Day One – Prayer for Healing

Ps 107: 19-22

Then they cried to the Lord in their need,
and he rescued them from their distress.
He sent forth his word to heal them,
and saved their life from destruction.

Let them thank the Lord for his mercy,
his wonders for the children of men.
Let them offer a sacrifice of thanks,
and tell of his deeds with rejoicing.

We praise and thank you, Lord Jesus, for the many healing blessings that you have granted to us in the past. For all our caregivers, family, friends, and prayer partners, we thank you. You are the source of all healing. Stretch out your hand over us: touch our bodies with health and strength; touch our minds with confidence and hope; touch our spirits with faith and charity.

Our Father, who art in heaven…
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you….
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit…

Dear St. Peregrine, brother and friend, faithful Servant of Mary, kindly listen to our plea. You prayed before the cross and Jesus heard your prayer and today you live in the eternal light of heaven. Now pray with us that the Risen Lord will extend his all-powerful hand over us to heal us of all our ills. Hear our prayer that we may know the power of your intercession for all who are suffering. May God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, whose holiness shines forth in you, St. Peregrine, receive all honor and glory forever. Amen.

St. Peregrine, pray for us.

(You may leave your personal petitions at our Facebook page.)

February 17 – Feast of the Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order

Gathered in the Name of Jesus the Lord; Inspired by Mary, Mother and Servant; Sent to be Men of Compassion

Bigatti Founders copy (1)The Times, They Are A-Changin’. The title of this popular song of the 1960s pretty well sums up what was going on during that decade. Throughout the world old barriers between races and ethnic groups were collapsing, dress codes were being stripped away, and traditional values about war and industry and education were stirring up riots and sit-ins. The future of everything seemed uncertain. Even the Church found itself in the midst of more change and upheaval than it had seen in centuries. The question was, “How do we live the message of Jesus in this strange new world?” Everybody in the Church seemed to have a different answer to this question.

The early thirteenth century was also a time of upheaval and change. Serfs were moving from the countryside into the growing cities; trade and exploration were booming; and new approaches to education and new ways of thinking abounded. The Church of that day also found itself struggling to catch up with the world. The Church which had long organized itself around farming villages and monastery schools suddenly found itself out of touch with the new city population and their problems. Crime and corruption, poverty and materialism, urban gangs and urban violence — all these found new expression in the thirteenth century. And with growing prosperity, war became possible on a much larger scale.

In the midst of this upheaval, many men and women of faith turned to prayer and penance, the recipe that Jesus recommends when nothing else seems to work against the power of evil. By refusing to take part in any money-grabbing or war-making, they hoped to turn people’s attention back to God. Among these groups who were trying to do something about the direction that civilization was taking were seven wool merchants living in Florence. They were members of a group of penitents dedicated to the service of Our Lady. Their leader was named Bonfilius. In addition to having a special devotion to Mary, they tried to recapture the simplicity of life that characterized the first Christian community.

By the year 1242 this group of seven had begun to live community in a more intense way. They had left their jobs and their families and moved into a dwelling at Cafaggio, just outside the walls of Florence. A few years later, under the spiritual guidance of St. Peter of Verona, the small group sought even greater solitude at nearby Monte Senario. Here these seven men had the space and the quiet needed to take in new members. St. Peter helped the new group to deepen their relationship with Mary and to adopt a Rule or way of living in community.

After this time of retreat, the Servants of Mary were ready to come down from the mountain and undertake an active ministry. Friars once again established a community at Florence, then opened one at Siena, and then, during the next seven hundred years, spread to every continent save Antarctica. As the Order expanded, the friars dedicated their churches to Mary and honored her in their liturgical service. They continued to witness to the importance of prayer and the importance of being unencumbered by the world’s goods. In time, groups of women who shared the vision of the Seven Founders, came to be Servants of Mary.

We know very few details about the lives of the first seven Servants of Mary. Some had been married before coming together in community, while some had not. Some eventually chose to become priests, but at least one did not. In a way, though, details of their individual lives are not that important. Servites who followed in the way of the Seven have preferred to honor them as a group, because their holiness grew out of the fraternal love they shared in community. In 1888 Pope Leo XIII chose to canonize them as a group (The Seven Holy Founders): the only time in history that the Church has canonized an entire founding community. (Fr. Joseph Chamblain, OSM)

Over seven centuries later, the Servites remain a creative, apostolic force that extend their community to people of all ages, races, nationalities, and social position. Faithful to the Spirit of their Founders, they seek to promote new forms of service when necessary, especially to the poorest and most needy, promoting justice among all men and women.

Prayer: God of mercy, you inspired the Seven Holy Founders with the will to follow Christ in radical poverty and humility. Through their intercession grant that we, too, walk always in your presence and remain faithful to the spirit of the Gospel and our Christian calling. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice, I say it again rejoice. Shout for joy. Sing joyfully. Be glad and exult with all your heart. These words sound very welcome to me after a pretty glum week in Chicago…marches, demonstrations, words and words and words, but not about joy.

Anger, frustration, accusations, shouting, blocking traffic, but not joy! Is the third Sunday of Advent out of touch with the events of everyday life? No! Despite what is going on around us, like in Zephaniah, God assures us that he is in our midst and that should remove the harsh judgments from our hearts

The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, speaking of the joyous bells of Christmas, seems to capture the duality of joy and pain in life.

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

When he composed this poem his life was experiencing much pain: his wife had been killed in a house fire and he just learned that his son, fighting for the North in the Civil War, was seriously injured. His spirit was sagging as was that of the nation during the Civil War. His pen continued.

And in despair, I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.”
Then more words came as the pen moved on:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

God has walked our troubled ways in the past with Zephaniah, with Paul, with John the Baptist, with shepherds and angels on the first Christmas Night. The question is the question addressed to John—what should we do? We find the tax collector, the soldier asking “what should we do?” The answer collect taxes fairly; don’t accuse anyone falsely; live your life rightly is John’s answer. Follow the one who comes after me, the Christ.

The challenge is for each one of us to answer that same question “what should I do?” to contribute to that angelic chant “peace on earth, good-will to the men and women who walk through my life daily. How do I say to them “Rejoice, I say it again rejoice. Shout for joy. Sing joyfully. Be glad and exult with all your heart?” How do I make joy happen?

New Venerable Fra Venanzio Maria Quadri, O.S.M.

P C B C:
Venerable Fra Venanzio Maria Quadri (1916 – 1937)
On Tuesday, October 27, 2015 there was an Ordinary Session of Bishops and Cardinals to study the Positio super vita et virtutibus of the Servant of God, Fra Venanzio Maria Quadri OSM (1916-1937). I telephoned the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints and spoke to its secretary, Msgr. Bartolucci. He said “How do you think it went?” I was a little unsure and said “well …” He immediately said “Very, very well! Everyone voted in his favor and many applauded. He is a wonderful person and deserves to be well known.” The success of this session is a crucial step in this process. Approval of the Positio brings the examination of our dear brother’s virtues to a successful conclusion. He now has the title of “Venerable.” All we need for beatification is a miracle. I would like to thank my predecessor, Fra Tito M. Sartori first of all. He worked hard on this case and is now happy to see the results. I would also like to thank the many people who prayed for a happy conclusion to this meeting. Now we have to publicize the life of Fra Venanzio. We could insert a brief biography in our reviews and newsletters. We can seek a miracle through his intercession. My heartfelt thanks to all.

Brief Biography
Antonio Quadri was born in Vado di Setta (Bologna Province) on
December 9, 1916. His parents were Giuseppe, a professional
tailor and Enrica Pia Castelli who wove baskets for a shop in
Bologna.
On October 3, 1927, Antonio entered the Servite Priory School at
Ronzano. From 1929 to 1931 he studied Italian, French, history
and geography. His spiritual director was Fra Bernardino M.
Piccinelli (whose cause for canonization is moving forward). He
learned devotion to Our Lady and a boundless admiration for St.
Therese of Lisieux who was canonized during the 1925 Holy
Year.
On September 7, 1931, Anthony and six companions were
clothed in the tunic and transferred to Reggio Emilia. He
frequented IV and V year of the Ginnasio in 1931-1932. On
August 28, 1932 – the Feast of St. Augustine – he was clothed in
the Servite habit and began his novitiate (1932-1933). At
vestition he was given a new name: Fra Venanzio. He made his
temporary profession on August 29, 1933 and with the
permission of his Master he offered himself as a “victim of
merciful love.” St. Therese of Lisieux had done the same thing.
He then moved to Bologna to study philosophy (1933-1935). On
October 3, 1935, Fra Venanzio went to Rome to begin his fouryear
study of theology. He never completed these studies but
died unexpectedly on November 2, 1937.
Fra Pietro M. Rizzi wrote an account of Fra Venanzio’s death on
November 2, 1937. He died in a room at Sant’Alessio Falconieri
College in Rome. Fra Pietro’s account is one of the most
beautiful pages in the history of Servite spirituality. Fra Pietro
describes the characteristics of Fra Venanzio’s spirituality: he
was very attached to the humanity of the Lord Jesus, he had a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux and
was very attached to his own mother. He expressed the very human desire to have his mother with him as he
breathed his last. Fra Venanzio led a splendid life which was unfortunately cut short. It is still a source of great
spiritual light.
The Cause for Beatification
The renown of Fra Venanzio’s holiness spread throughout the Order and one began to speak of canonization
from the very moment of his death. The ordinary process for beatification began in Bologna in 1957 and
concluded in 1967. The Positio super causae introductione was prepared in 1979, but because of changed
legislation in 1983 it was not discussed. Further documentary proof was gathered and the Positio super vita,
virtutibus et fama sanctitatis was examined on October 27, 2015. It was unanimously approved.
Prayer
O Jesus, the angelic Fra Venanzio Maria wanted to offer himself as a “victim of love.” Glorify this your faithful
servant on earth whom we now believe is blessed in heaven. Grant us the grace we implore … and you, Mary,
for the sake of the maternal tenderness you showed to his little and humble soul, one who served you perfectly,
through your intercession hasten his glorification on earth and grant us the grace we need for eternal salvation.
Fra Franco M. Azzalli, O.S.M.
Postulator General
F G S O
V M Q
(1916-1937)

The Image of God’s Love

A legend is told of St. Philip Benizi that, as he was preparing to pass from the earthly life to the eternal one, he asked for the book.  Now, as a religious, there are two books of great importance for the life of the ServiSan_Filippo_Benizi_-_Monte_Senario2te friar.  The first book is the Sacred Scripture for therein lies the most holy Word of God.  Upon the pages of this sacred book are written God’s love story for humanity, culminating in the holiest portion of this book, the four Gospels which transmit to us the words and life of the Lord Jesus.  For a friar, the study of and the mediation upon the Gospels is a daily activity of the great importance.  The second book of great importance for the life of the Servite friar is the Rule and Constitutions of the Order.  The Rule and Constitutions are the concrete manner by which the individual friar and the community of friars live the Gospel of Jesus.  Within the contents of these two books, the Sacred Scriptures, and the Rule and Constitutions, the Servite friar orders his life in the holy pursuit of becoming the perfect disciple of Jesus and a faithful servant of Mary, the Mother of God.   When St. Philip asked for the book, he might have been asking for one of these.  Instead St. Philip Benizi was given a crucifix in fulfillment of his request.  I believe that the crucifix was the book St. Philip wanted.  This is why statues of St. Philip Benizi has the saint holding and looking at the crucifix.

The crucifix is a cross with the image of the crucified Jesus on it.  The crucifix is the visual image of love; the love between God and humanity.  This image of God’s love is so important that our churches have crucifixes prominently displayed.  The crucifix is there to remind us, not of the shame of our sin, but the remembrance of God’s great love for us.  Having the crucifix in church and at home is meant to be an image of hope and consolation that we are never outside of our Heavenly Father’s love through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross.  As St. Philip prepared to die and begin eternal life, it was the crucifix which gave the saint hope to know that God’s love forgave his sins; faith to trust that heaven was his reward; and love to navigate the journey from this life to the next.  In the crucifix, St. Philip Benizi read the story of God’s love and saw his life within God’s story.  The crucifix is meant to teach us the same lesson.  As we prepare to celebrate the feast of this wonderful saint on August 23, let us take time to read the lesson of the crucifix through our prayer and meditation.  It will do for us what it did for St. Philip which is lead is us to a deeper faith in the love that God has for each of us.

Fr. Donald Siple, OSM

A new Servite priest from the Vicariate of Ingwavuma

2I always believe the Vicariate of Ingwavuma is a very special place. It is still a “Vicariate”(not yet a diocese) but most of the clergy – being diocesan or religious – is local. Five new priests were ordained in the last five years. All of them born in this area. There are also another seven seminarians, all born here, who are joining the diocesan priesthood (three of them) or the Order of the Servants of Mary.

On Saturday 27, all the priests serving in the Vicariate joined a big crowd of joyful people for the ordination of Thabiso Nkosingiphile Masinga OSM. His provincial, Fr John Fontana OSM, arrived from the USA a couple of days before the celebration.

We got some light rain as a sign of God’s blessings upon him and upon our Vicariate.

During the homily, based on the readings he had chosen, I invited him to remember two or three things.

The first one is that he has been called to be sent.He was not called to stay at home (or, worse, to remain at home complaining about those who do not go to Church). I asked him to make sure he would visit every single family wherever he would be working. All of them. Not just his friends. All of them. Those going to church and those who do not go for different reasons. He is being sent to all.

I also asked him to go with a word of encouragement, a word of consolation, a word of hope. In short… with God’s word. I joked with the fact that at the entrance of the Mission there is a sign saying: “Beware of the dog” and asked him to make sure there would never be one saying: “Beware of the priest”.

  1. The second thing I asked him was to “listen”. It is clear he has listened to God’s call and that is why he was there. He had done all these years as he journeyed helped by different people. The risk is that becoming a priest, he might not listen anymore. “Make sure you open your ear before you open your mouth”. Again, I made him aware of the sickness some priests have who do not want to listen to anyone… being the bishop, other priests, religious or… much less, the lay people!

Finally I reminded him he has been called to be a Servant of Mary. He will be a Servite priest. Not a Consolata Missionary like me, not an Oblate or a Franciscan or a Diocesan. His priesthood will be marked by his being a Servite and that will be God’s gift to us all. It is in this diversity of calls that we complement each other and become a blessing to our people

 

– Bishop Jose Luis Ponce de Leon

Papal Encyclical LAUDATO SI (Part II)

As mentioned in the last posting, this posting appeared in the Pastor’s column of the parish bulletin at Assumption Parish in Chicago. This is work of Father Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M. I hope that this helps the reader understand Pope Francis’ Encyclical.
Father Michael Doyle, O.S.M.

PRAISED BE TO YOU (PART 2)
In last week’s column I talked in general about the new encyclical from Pope Francis, Laudato Si (Praise Be To You). I discussed what an encyclical is and why the Pope was “taking sides” in the climate change debate. I promised to follow that up this week, with a look at some of the highlights in this more than 100 page document.
Some have found the Pope’s remarks on the environment too extreme (“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth”) and his analysis of capitalism too harsh (“market forces . . . see nature as a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation”). But in his encyclical the Pope is asking us to see the effect of environmental damage from the perspective of the poor—who are most affected when natural resources are extracted from the land to feed the market for consumer goods and who have the fewest options when violent and extreme weather caused by climate change rolls across the land. When we travel to third world countries most of us only see the parts of these countries that their governments and the tour companies want us to see. But the Pope knows first-hand through his own travels and his own ministry among the poor in South America about the destruction of rain forests, the “desertification” of peasant farm lands, and the poisoning of drinking water from industrial production.
The Pope is speaking out so strongly because he sees the environmental crisis as essentially a spiritual crisis (“an economic sin”), which manifests itself in at least three ways. First, our unbridled appetite for material goods contradicts an essential tenet of our faith that true and lasting happiness is in God and not in the things of this world (“The mere amassing of things and pleasures are not enough to give meaning and joy to the human heart”). Second, protecting our environment must be seen as an essential component in our care for the poor and the marginalized (He says we cannot claim to respect nature while supporting abortion or be pro-life without a commitment to reverse the damage to the environment; likewise we cannot oppose the trafficking of endangered species while remaining indifferent to human trafficking). Third, our indifference to the state of the environment is a betrayal of our most basic responsibility given to the human race in Genesis (human beings “endowed with intelligence must respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibrium existing between the creatures of this world . . . All living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes . . . . Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or secondary aspect of our Christian experience.”).
In the end, the Pope is warning us that the cavalier way that our present economic-political system treats earth “our common home” is unsustainable. Today it is the world’s poor who are most affected; tomorrow it will be us. He then proposes very concrete actions, some of which we can take as individuals and some require systemic change. We can practice environmental responsibility by “avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can be reasonably consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transportation or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights . . .” He suggests that even saying grace before meals can be a wonderful reminder that all that we have is truly a gift. At the national and international level, the Pope calls for policies reducing “carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases . . . and developing sources of renewable energy.” He also challenges the nations of the world to place the common global good ahead of their national interests in negotiating treaties on the environment, recognizing that some nations can do more to mitigate a future environmental catastrophe than others.
There is much more that the Pope has to say about the state of the world in this encyclical, which was released on June 18. However, my impression is that his words, after creating an initial splash, are already in the process of being ignored and forgotten. Perhaps the message seems too much like the same old stuff. I was in high school when the “environmental movement” began to solidify in the late 1960’s and I remember the immense activism of that first Earth Day in 1970. Since then I think most of us have simply grown used to dire warnings about the environment. After all the years of hand-wringing, it is hard to believe that we might actually be heading down a path of destruction from which we cannot return. Essentially the Pope is asking us to see that caring for the environment is just as essential to practicing our faith as obeying the commandments and being charitable. Maybe if we told ourselves that every day for a month we might begin to believe it.
Fr. Joe

Papal Encyclical LAUDATO SI

Father Joe Chamblain, O.S.M., pastor of Servite Assumption Church on Illinois Street in Chicago has written two articles for his bulletin. One on the place of Encyclicals in the teaching role in the Church. The second one reflects on the contents of the Encyclical. I believe these articles are well thought out so I asked Father Joe if I could publish them on our blog. The first article follows. This is not my writing but that of Father Joseph Chamblain, O.S.M.

Father Michael Doyle, O.S.M.

BLESSED ARE YOU
After months of speculation, intrigue, and anticipatory criticism, Pope Francis issued his encyclical on the environment Laudato Si (or Blessed Are You) this past Thursday June 18. The entire document runs more than 100 pages and addresses lots of topics beyond the controversial discussion on climate change. I will try to cover some of the highlights in next week’s column. In order to properly understand what the Pope is saying, though, it is important to understand what an encyclical is and why a Pope thinks it appropriate to teach us about science.
In discussions about the Catholic Church people often use the phrase “the Pope said,” as if everything that comes from Rome is equally important and demands the same level of attention. That is not how they think in Rome. The highest level of Papal teaching is the “infallible statement” or definitive pronouncement on some matter of faith and morals. This level of Papal authority has only been employed a few times in all of history. The next level under infallible statement is the encyclical, which is “a pastoral letter written by the Pope and sent to the whole church and even to the whole world, to express church teaching on some important matter related to faith and morals for which, we, the faithful, are bound to adhere.” It differs from an infallible statement in that it is not necessarily intended to be the final word on that subject. For example, the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption into heaven at the end of her earthly life is a definitive statement that precludes new developments and further discussion. Many Papal encyclicals, on the other hand, attempt to apply Biblical truth and Church Tradition to an ever changing landscape. For example, Popes began speaking out on the rights of labor and human rights in general in the late nineteenth century. Throughout the twentieth century Popes have written other encyclicals on labor and human rights because new challenges to human rights have appeared.
Below the level of encyclicals in magisterial importance are Apostolic Exhortations (a Papal reflection that does not contain new teachings or policy directives) and Apostolic Letters (a Papal teaching that seeks to apply an existing doctrine to a particular situation or region). Other declarations, decrees, and instructions also come from Rome, but are issued by various commissions or departments (called Congregations) within the Vatican and are not necessarily initiated by the Pope. Thus, we can see that as an encyclical, Blessed Are You is a teaching to which all Catholics are expected to adhere, but it does not necessarily represent the final word on climate change or the environment. Right now the Pope believes that climate change threatens life on this planet, and that climate change adversely affects the poor the most. He sees climate change not just as a scientific problem but as a moral issue: how we care for the environment is directly linked to how we care for the human person.
A big question that has been raised about this encyclical is why the Pope is taking the side of those who believe that human beings are causing climate change when some scientists claim there is no such thing as climate change and others agree that there is such a thing as climate change but that human beings have played no role in it. Here’s the thing about science. Non-believers often make the point that science is based on facts and religion is based on stories and legends. While it is true that science is based on data that has been carefully measured and recorded, that data still has to be interpreted. Hence, two scientists can look at the same information and draw two different conclusions. Sometimes scientific studies are conducted by industry groups or other special interest groups that have a vested interest in a certain outcome and that internal bias can influence the interpretation of data. And, of course, some people are just plain stubborn. I have mentioned my relatives the Collinses who refused to accept the American Revolution and still considered themselves British subject as late as 1940.
In his encyclical the Pope has joined the vast majority of scientists who believe that human beings have contributed to climate change; but we may never reach the day in which every scientist will agree with that position. In fact, those who disagree with the majority opinion play an important role, because they keep the discussion honest. They force us to keep looking at new data that may come in and not just decide that the matter is settled. Right now, though, the Pope is asking all the people of the world to take better care of the one habitat that we have. If we get this wrong we may not have the benefit of a second Noah.
Fr. Joe