Restoring beauty through reconciliation and unity

Caring for God's creation


Planet Earth from space; photo courtesy of NASA

By Matt Hershey

On June 18 Pope Francis issued an important document on the church’s call to care for creation. The 184-page encyclical was titled, Laudato si’, which means “Praise be to you.” The phrase originates from a poem and prayer by Saint Francis of Assisi that praises God for the creation of the different creatures and aspects of the Earth.

The subtitle of the encyclical, On Care for Our Common Home, stretches beyond Catholicism – it is a message to us all. It is a critique of consumerism, irresponsible development, environmental degradation and climate change. Pope Francis calls for “swift and unified global action” to help restore the beauty of our common home.

In July 2013, delegates to the Mennonite Church USA convention in Phoenix, Arizona, passed a Creation Care Resolution to “advance the commitment of congregations and members in caring for creation as part of the good news of Jesus Christ.” Similar to the Pope’s encyclical, this resolution is a commitment of the Church’s dedication “to care for God’s creation as an essential part of the good news of Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 12:12 proclaims, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” That body is not confined to one faith tradition. We all share a common home and are called and inspired to mend the broken relationships we have with this earth.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) also speaks to creation care in its mission statement: “MCC envisions communities worldwide in right relationship with God, one another and creation.” In its advocacy to the U.S. government on environmental issues, MCC partners with various faith groups, some of which belong to the Catholic tradition.

The power of interconnectedness between faith traditions working towards the goal of renewing God’s created order helps to fulfill the message of the Pope’s encyclical, the MC USA Creation Care Resolution and the MCC mission statement. Together we can reconcile consumerism, irresponsible development, environmental degradation, and climate change.

Whether Catholic, Anabaptist, or another faith tradition, we are all part of one body that shares one earth. One small step that you can take to restore this broken body and home that we share is to sign the Faith Climate Petition, calling for unified global action, reconciliation and hope of something better that is yet to come. God is glorified as we seek, humbly and with integrity, to live out the good news of Jesus Christ by caring for our common home.

Matt Hershey is a domestic policy intern in the MCC U.S. Washington Office this summer.