News Release: Catholic Conference Publishes FOCUS Document, Web Resources to Highlight Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ Teaching

MCC’s Efforts Come as Catholics Worldwide Reflect on Encyclical’s 5th Anniversary

Front cover of FOCUS essay

May 26, 2020

(Lansing, Mich.) — Throughout the month of May, Catholics across the world have recognized the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’s second encyclical, Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home, issued from Rome in May of 2015. Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC), the public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state, has joined these efforts by developing and distributing materials for Catholic institutions and various secular bodies. The pope’s document adds to the Catholic Church’s rich body of teaching on caring for God’s creation, urging people of good will to join efforts to protect the environment and all living creatures.

To encourage study and reflection of the encyclical, and to help bring the Holy Father’s teaching to a wide range of Catholics and others, MCC has dedicated its latest FOCUS publication to the topic, which carries the title On Care for Our Common Home: Reflecting on Laudato Si’. Accompanying the publication’s release is a webpage that includes resources and ideas for absorbing the encyclical’s themes on both an individual and an institutional level. The webpage highlights local examples of how the Catholic faithful in Michigan have participated in living out Laudato Si’ and the Church’s wider teaching to care for creation. MCC’s efforts accompany recent public initiatives from the Catholic Church to widen the impact of the pope’s teaching, including Laudato Si’ Week and the Day of Common Prayer for Creation, which took place May 24.

Dave Maluchnik, MCC Vice President for Communications, expressed gratitude for the voice of the Holy Father in international dialogue concerning the environment, recognizing the impact Laudato Si’ has had on the local Church:

“Pope Francis’s message about individuals having a shared responsibility for one another and for God’s creation is particularly relevant during this time of global pandemic,” said Maluchnik. “It is the hope of this organization that our materials will help to support the message of the Holy Father and encourage Catholics to dive more deeply into his teachings.”

Michiganders have all too often experienced firsthand the connection between the environment and those who are vulnerable in society—a connection routinely emphasized throughout Laudato Si’—particularly as it pertains to the Flint water crisis, access to clean and affordable drinking water both in Detroit and Flint, the presence of PFAS contaminants across the state, and concerns over oil and gas through the Straits of Mackinac.

Pope Francis incorporates several reflections in Laudato Si’ that provide for fruitful discussion among people of faith. In particular, the Holy Father’s recognition of the “throwaway culture,” a widespread mentality that treats everything as disposable, temporary, or replaceable, reminds Catholics that the treatment of all God’s creation must incorporate a different type of attitude. MCC’s FOCUS emphasizes the Church’s response to the throwaway culture, as articulated by Pope Francis:

“Respecting the value of each person—from conception until natural death—is an integral part of the daily lives of Catholics. The ability to practice this respect in every encounter will inevitably impact the way human beings treat the environment, as the natural world is a gift from God,” FOCUS reads.

Readers of the MCC FOCUS publication will be challenged to look beyond traditional political rhetoric and to engage practically with a theme that sits at the heart of the pope:

“While Michiganders may recognize the goodness of the state’s natural beauty, discussions about protecting God’s creation too often fall into routine partisan bickering rather than honest engagement and dialogue,” said Maluchnik. “Five years after the release of Laudato Si’, Michigan Catholic Conference is grateful for the opportunity to reflect further on the encyclical and to connect its themes to policies and practices.”

FOCUS has been in print for nearly 45 years and is distributed to all Catholic parishes, schools and institutions in the state; members of the executive, judicial and legislature branches of state government; the state’s congressional delegation; and various media outlets in Michigan, along with various interested parties in state and across the country.

Visit the MCC Laudato Si’ webpage to download a copy of FOCUS and to read and share additional materials.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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