The Pope, the Encyclical and Notre Dame

Author: Other

“Young people demand change.”

This line grabbed our attention the most when reading the papal encyclical released over the summer. ‘Laudato si’ is the latest and most drastic move taken by the Vatican to address the worldwide climate crisis. As interns at the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index, we spend a lot of our time working on and thinking about environmental issues. After this encyclical, and the momentum it has garnered, we feel it is time to recruit our fellow students in the fight for environmental justice.

Notre Dame is the world’s leading Catholic university and has always been a global force in combatting social justice issues such as poverty and injustice. ‘Laudato si’ has shed light on our new mission. We share a home with 7 billion other people and it is quickly becoming sick. Pope Francis issued a call to save our planet and we are obligated to answer. We can wait for other people to work it out or we can take action now. This is the greatest challenge our generation will face.

You may ask, how can we as students make any difference in the face of such a monumental problem? How can we fight for social and environmental justice? First, start right here on campus. Don’t use plastic water bottles, go to your dorm’s sustainability events and carpool home on breaks. Consider the sustainability minor or environmental engineering. Write your senior thesis on the dangers of climate change. Attend talks, like the Laudato Lunch being held Friday, September 11th at 12:30 p.m. in the Geddes Coffee House. There are so many resources and outlets available on campus. But changing the way we do things here is not enough. The second step is to change the way we think.

Consider how you can help create a more just and sustainable world in your work, relationships and lives. Speak out against practices and systems that hurt the environment. Live your life in a way that acknowledges we are responsible for the legacy we leave behind. The fight against climate change is a fight against apathy. We cannot be complacent with the status quo — we must be the change that we demand.

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Sarah Senseman


Sophia Chau


Corey Robinson