Vatican book project features local take on Laudato si’
By Melissa Vlach
It started with a phone call from Cardinal Peter Turkson, then-Prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. Pope Francis had come up with an idea for a book featuring stories of “Laudato si’” being brought to life around the globe, and Cardinal Turkson was inviting Father Kenneth Weare to contribute an article to the project.
“I was certainly flattered that the Cardinal had selected me to be one of the writers,” said Father Weare, who is pastor of St. Rita Parish in Fairfax. He noted that he has worked with Cardinal Turkson previously during conferences and other projects.
“Pope Francis wanted to have a book with a collection of articles there from individuals… to talk about the impact of Laudato si’ and to do that in a way that was both theological as well as pastoral and finally personal,” Father Weare said.
The result of the Holy Father’s idea has now come to fruition with the publication of “Laudato si’ Reader – An Alliance of Care for Our Common Home.” The book features contributions from leaders from around the globe, with reflections on how the message of the encyclical, “Laudato si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” has been put into practice since its publication in 2015. The project was timed to coincide with the end of the Laudato si’ Anniversary Year, celebrating five years since its publication.
The book’s editorial section states that the work is “both a celebration of previous achievements and an acknowledgement that the journey towards integral human development and the flourishing of all God’s creatures in our one and only common home is only just beginning, and for this reason we need everyone to join us!”
Father Weare contributed an article entitled “The Impact of Laudato si’: California.” In it he explains why the issue of climate change is so important to him: because of how it will affect children. “What kind of world are we welcoming those kids into? What will the world be like when they become parents and grandparents and great grandparents?” he writes.
He also discusses the work that has been done locally to live “Laudato si’“, including the formation of Green Teams at various parishes and a Lenten series at his own parish focusing on environmental issues.
Father Weare describes concern for the environment as something he has cared about for a long time. “It’s one of the moral issues that I have been involved in for many, many years, going all the way back to the 1970s.” However, his focus on it has grown in recent years. He gives frequent talks on the subject and is part of the California Bishops’ Committee on Environmental Stewardship.
“We have a moral obligation to be involved in issues related to climate change and our future on the planet, and if this is really the home that God gave us, which it is, then we have to protect it and prepare it for future generations,” he stated.
Pope Francis himself wrote the book’s preface, reflecting on the progress made since his encyclical was published and the work still to be done. “I rejoice to see that the encyclical has had a positive impact on our efforts to care for our common home in the Church, in our ecumenical and interreligious communities, in political and economic circles, in educational and cultural spheres, and beyond,” he writes.
The book’s more than 80 articles were written by individuals in different fields from all around the world. The other contribution from California was written by Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez. It also includes a special message from António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations.
The book can currently be downloaded for free at https://www.humandevelopment.va/en/news/2021/published-laudato-si-reader.html. The print version will be available at the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Melissa Vlach is the social action/digital media coordinator of the Office of Human Life & Dignity at the Archdiocese of San Francisco.