Just before the United States welcomed the arrival of Pope Francis in Washington, DC, New York and Philadelphia, we gathered to spend time reflecting on the new Encyclical Letter, Laudato Sí, which is truly a gift and challenge from Pope Francis. Father Si Smith, sj opened with a clear, insightful analysis of the Encyclical. He stressed the importance Pope Francis gives to the inseparable relation between the treasures of creation and the value of the Human Person – holding both with deep respect and loving care.
Si’s commitment and involvement over a number of years in the Middle East, with Jesuit Missions in the U.S. and Canada, the US Catholic Mission Association, and Jesuit Refugee Services in Africa, offered us a depth of insight into the important message of this Encyclical. An international group of Lay Friends and FMM entered into conversations, bringing new light and enthusiasm from their experiences among the Poor and of the devastating effects of climate change in different countries and with Franciscans International at the United Nations. Sooner than we wished we were saying Good-bye to one another. We look forward to another time when we can enter more fully into the living meaning of Laudato Sí¸- held together by the contemplative joy of Francis of Assisi in which he offers praise to God for all of creation, for all creatures.