What has been the Marianists’ reaction to Pope Francis’ encyclical?
We asked this question of Brother Ron Overman, S.M. ’68, assistant provincial for temporalities (finance) of the Marianist Province of the United States. His answer:
There was great anticipation about the encyclical. Many of my Marianist brothers speculated on the content. We have not been disappointed — especially with how Pope Francis connects respect for the environment with how the environmental issues relate to keeping the poor of the world poor.
Many of our communities have read and used the encyclical for community meetings to further understand how the environment not only impacts the poor of the world but also how it will affect future generations. (One helpful study guide was published by National Catholic Reporter, “A Readers’ Guide to Laudato Si,’ ” by Jesuit Father Thomas Reese.)
Soon after the Laudato Si’ was published, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) encouraged all religious orders of men to adopt a resolution called “Cherish All of Creation.”
The tenets of the resolution include these beginnings:
“We resolve to significantly change our lifestyle, including our consumption habits …
“We resolve to significantly increase our reliance on green energy in our ministries, buildings, and our investments …
“We resolve that we significantly decrease our use of fossil fuels … by purchasing carbon off-sets to increase environmental improvement.
“We resolve to consistently advocate for significant policy changes at the local, national and international spheres …”
Each tenet comes from the encyclical Laudato Si’ and brings us practical ways to make the encyclical part of our life.
Ninety-eight percent of the members of the Marianist Province of the United States endorsed the CMSM resolution.
Several of our communities have already sought ways to use green energy in their local houses. Several have used an alternative energy company (Arcadia) to supply green energy to the power grid, thus reducing fossil fuel use. Such use of green energy may be a small step, but it is the right step and respects the direction of Care for our Common Home.