Indianapolis Catholic leads Pope’s global plan to care for the earth

INDIANAPOLIS (CNS) — John Mundell calls it “an incredible honor” to have recently been chosen as the director of the global effort to put into action Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’, on caring for our commune house “.

At the same time, the member of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Indianapolis feels a great responsibility to help people around the world understand the urgent need to care for the world God has created – the central theme of the papal encyclical published seven years ago. from.

“The world and the Catholic Church as a whole have failed to respond adequately to Pope Francis’ central message, which calls for an ‘ecological conversion’ to change our ways of life and our economy,” Mundell said.

“During this same period, we have witnessed firsthand the growing effects of climate change and biodiversity loss – more intense storms and floods, wildfires and record temperatures,” he said. for follow-up.

John Mundell poses for a photo against the backdrop of Washington’s Puget Sound. (CNS Photo/courtesy John Mundell via The Criterion)

“While there are positive signs of progress in some areas and increased engagement with the faithful, much more is needed if we are to have a positive impact,” he said.

Mundell hopes to help create that positive impact as director of the Laudato Si’ Platform for Action, or LSAP, which offers concrete plans for a “seven-year journey toward healing in our relationships with God, our neighbors, and the world.” earth itself”.

Mundell sees this trip as essentially Catholic. It is also a journey that marked more than 50 years of his life.

He said his goals now “are to do everything possible to implement Pope Francis’ vision of how we should all respond to our environmental crisis.”

“The challenges we face are immense, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up our individual and collective abilities to have a positive impact,” he told The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. .

“Although we still need to keep talking, thinking, praying and discussing during our seven-year journey in the LSAP, we can no longer be satisfied with mere words. Now is the time for our global Catholic community to respond with a sense of urgency,” he said.

Care for creation has become “an ever-growing concern for humanity and an integral part of Catholic social teaching” over the past 50 years, Mundell said, highlighting the writings and speeches of Saint Pope Paul VI at the Pope Benedict XVI on the matter. .

“It’s only in recent years that it’s become politicized as sort of a ‘right or left’ issue,” he said. “Our faith calls us to respond differently. Caring for our common home is a moral issue for all of us.

“I believe we are truly more authentically Catholic when we realize and practice our universal call to the common good and to care for all creation.”

He explained that the Laudato Si Action platform is an online digital space – https://laudatosiactionplatform.org – “developed by the Vatican in collaboration with hundreds of Catholic organizations to inspire and empower everyone to take decisive action to support care for our world.”

“It offers planning guides and resources, a planning process, and a place to connect with others who are taking action,” Mundell said.

Everyone is invited “to embark on a seven-year journey of healing in our relationships with God, our neighbors and the earth itself”, he said: individuals and families, parishes and dioceses, establishments of education, health and healing institutions, businesses, congregations and religious communities.

“The development of local Laudato Si’ plans containing concrete actions is the main objective,” he added.

Mundell said he hopes individuals, families and parishes will sign up to the site and “put together a simple Laudato Si’ plan to start following it.”

“We have to start with ourselves and do a little daily ‘examination of conscience’ on how we live our lives and our Catholic faith,” he said. “Sometimes it’s easy to overlook those things that our faith calls us to live that are more difficult than others – simpler lives, less consumption, less waste.”

He recommended people start “with something easy and doable – maybe focusing on just one thing each month that you could consider changing for the better. What if you fail? Remember that you can start again the next day.

Growing up, Mundell “always felt a strong connection to the land and the earth,” he said. “My family helped settle the state of Indiana and farmed for several generations.”

He participated in his first Earth Day in 1970. This, along with his background in civil engineering and geology at Purdue University, led him to become one of Indiana’s first environmental consultants. Mundell has spent the past 43 years investigating and cleaning up thousands of contaminated sites across Indiana, the United States and the world.

He worked with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the late 1990s on several environmental justice projects.

Mundell worked with the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Laudato Si’ Movement to develop the idea for the Laudato Si’ Platform for Action.

Pope Francis has designated September 1 as the World Day of Prayer for the Season of Creation, which runs until October 4, the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi. “Listen to the voice of creation” is the theme of the season.

“The Season of Creation gives us a chance to stop, listen and feel our interconnectedness with everyone and everything, and experience a deep sense of responsibility to our global community and our common home. “, Mundell said. “It can only lead to positive action.”

He said in his message that Pope Francis “asks us not only to listen to the ‘sweet song’ in praise of our beloved Creator, but also to hear the ‘cries of anguish’ of our sister, the Mother Earth, the poor, Indigenous peoples and our children, and respond with actions and deeds “so that we and future generations may continue to rejoice in the sweet song of life and creation’s hope”.


Shaughnessy is associate editor of The Criterion, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

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