Care of Our Common Home

Care For Our Common Home
– Moving From Words To Action?

 Invitation To Online Conversation Over Two June Evenings


In May 2015,  in a letter entitled  LAUDATO SI’ On Care for our Common Home, Pope Francis appealed to “every person living on this planet” to engage in an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.  In the intervening five-year period he has repeatedly called upon the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path.  Please join us as we consider the above question on Tuesday 23rd and Thursday 25th June, 8 –  9 pm.


Word of welcome and opening prayer (Bishop Kevin)

Short input (ten to fifteen minutes) from Dr. Cathriona Russell, lecturer /teacher in theology and environmental ethics, School of Religion, Trinity College Dublin.  See short biography below.

Two short insights (not exceeding ten minutes in total) into the work of Church and Environmental Groups and Networks that are active in Ireland, Sligo /Roscommon /East Galway, e.g. Trocaire and Sligo Environmental Network.

Discussion, incorporating opportunities to pose questions of Cathriona, offer insights from one’s own experience, reading etc.  (facilitated by Justin Harkin)

Closing Prayer


In preparing her input  Cathriona will be mindful of the content of  Laudato Si‘ (see link below to access), the thirty-five minute video below and the summary of Laudato Si‘ that is available at  the end of this webpage. 

We encourage everyone interested in participating  to engage with these.  One hour’s preparation by everyone is likely to contribute to a very stimulating conversation for all.

Click here to access Laudato Si’.


The  title of this thirty-five minute video is  Laudato Si’ A Canadian Response. It has been created by Kevin Moynihan, an internationally acclaimed Videographer.  Kevin’s video presents a very helpful overview and incorporates interviews of various Canadians, including David Suzuki (academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist), Maude Barlow (author, activist, founding member of the Council of Canadians, a citizens’ advocacy organization and co-founder of  the Blue Planet Project, which works internationally for the human right to water), Silver Donald Cameron (Canadian journalist, author, playwright and university teacher whose writing focuses on social justice, nature and the environment) and Gregor Robertson (Canadian entrepreneur and politician, who, when Mayor of Vancouver (2008 to 2018) oversaw the creation and implementation of the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan spearheaded the creation of the city’s first comprehensive Economic Action Strategy).


Both meetings will be supported by the Zoom Video Conferencing Application.


Meeting ID:  8761715260
Password: 270420

INTRODUCING Dr. Cathriona Russell

After her studies in Horticultural Science at University College Dublin, Cathriona worked in environmental monitoring and ornamental horticulture for ten years.  She returned to full-time studies in theology in 1996, completing her  PhD in 2006.  Alongside working in TCD, she was Director of the former Masters in Ecology and Religion at All Hallows College, DCU and taught distance-learning students at the Priory Institute Tallaght.  In the School of Religion, TCD, she teaches undergraduate students and also postgraduates on the Masters in Theology (in conjunction with the Church of Ireland Theological Institute).

Cathriona is one of many committed Christians and academics who welcomed Pope Francis’ hightlighting of critical environment concerns via the publication of Laudato Si’ in 2015.  Her recent publications also cover topics highlighted by Pope Francis, e.g.  (i) Leaving no one behind: inequalities facing impoverished providers in marginalised economies affected by biodiversity loss and climate change; (ii) Care, Coercion and Dignity at the End of Life; and (iii) Integral Ecology: Autonomy, the Common Inheritance of the Earth and Creation Theology.  See for more details.


Elphin Diocese’s Pastoral & Faith Development Services
During Autumn, in partnership with Trocaire, we look forward to offering interested participants an opportunity to participate in an online bookclub that will explore Laudato Si’ in more detail.  This opportunity will be supported by a series of PowerPoint presentations developed by Trocaire’s Laudato Si’ Officer, Jane Mellett.

Galilee Spirituality Centre
We also encourage persons interested in learning more to visit the website of the Galilee Spirituality Centre, Tintagh, Boyle, Co. Roscommon:   Part of Galilee’s mission is environmental awareness and there are learning resources, opportunities for spiritual nourishment, and other supports on the website. Their online summer retreat, with Sr Nellie McLaughlin has an environmental theme (recording on the website June 18th, ‘live’ zoom session June 20th).


To receive an on-the-day email or text reminder of our conversations on June 23rd and 25th please contact Justin @ 087 61715260  / .


General Summary
Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’ (“Praise be to you”) is a worldwide wake up call to help humanity understand that humanity is endangering the environment and the lives and livelihoods of our fellows. While addressing environment questions directly, the document’s scope is broader in many ways as it looks not only at human impact on the environment, but also the many philosophical, theological, and cultural causes that threaten the relationships between people and the home they share in common. This document is in many ways the epitome of Pope Francis. It is an unexpected topic. It presents Gospel truths. And, it provides a challenge for every believer (and all people of good will too). From the outset, Pope Francis states the goal of the document: “In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (#3). Normally, papal documents are addressed to the bishops of the Church or the lay faithful. But, in keeping with Pope Saint John XXIII’s Pacem in Terris, Pope Francis addresses his message to all people.

The goal of the dialogue: “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the present and future of our planet. We need a conversation that includes everyone, since the environment challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (#14). The above is at the heart of the document, but Pope Francis also has a very striking call to conversion for those in the Church as well.

“The ecological crisis is also a summons to profound interior conversion. It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an ‘ecological conversion’, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (#217) 

Chapter Summaries and Quotes


Goal: “Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home” (#17).

Message: “But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly. We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves” (#34).


Goal: “Why should this document, addressed to all people of good will, include a chapter dealing with the convictions of believers? I am well aware that in the areas of politics and philosophy there are those who firmly reject the idea of a Creator, or consider it irrelevant… Nonetheless, science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both” (#62).

Message: “We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us…. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.

The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to ‘till and keep’ the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). ’Tilling’ refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations” (#67)


Goal: “It would hardly be helpful to describe symptoms without acknowledging the human origins of the ecological crisis. A certain way of understanding human life and activity has gone awry, to the serious detriment of the world around us. Should we not pause and consider this? At this stage, I propose that we focus on the dominant technocratic (efficiency, production, and wealth accumulation) paradigm and the place of human beings and of human action in the world” (#101).

Message: “It can be said that many problems of today’s world stem from the tendency, at times unconscious, to make the method and aims of science and technology an epistemological paradigm which shapes the lives of individuals and the workings of society. The effects of imposing this model on reality as a whole, human and social, are seen in the deterioration of the environment, but this is just one sign of a reductionism which affects every aspect of human and social life. We have to accept that technological products are not neutral, for they create a framework which ends up conditioning lifestyles and shaping social possibilities along the lines dictated by the interests of certain powerful groups” (#107).


Goal: “Since everything is closely interrelated, and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis, I suggest that we now consider some elements of an integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions” (#137).

Message: “We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision. Today, the analysis of environmental problems cannot be separated from the analysis of human, family, work related and urban contexts, nor from how individuals relate to themselves, which leads in turn to how they relate to others and to the environment” (#141).


Goal: “So far I have attempted to take stock of our present situation, pointing to the cracks in the planet that we inhabit as well as to the profoundly human causes of environmental degradation. Although the contemplation of this reality in itself has already shown the need for a change of direction and other courses of action, now we shall try to outline the major paths of dialogue which can help us escape the spiral of self-destruction which currently engulfs us” (#163).

Message: “Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan. Yet the same ingenuity which has brought about enormous technological progress has so far proved incapable of finding effective ways of dealing with grave environmental and social problems worldwide. A global consensus is essential for confronting the deeper problems, which cannot be resolved by unilateral actions on the part of individual countries.” (#164)


Goal: “Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal” (#202).

Message: “In calling to mind the figure of Saint Francis of Assisi, we come to realize that a healthy relationship with creation is one dimension of overall personal conversion, which entails the recognition of our errors, sins, faults and failures, and leads to heartfelt repentance and desire to change” (#218).

Adapted from a summary hosted on the Catholic Global Climate Movement website:


Uploaded:  June 10th 2020