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Reflections on living Laudato Si’ from the HEST Cluster on Ecology and Environmental Challenges

15 October 2018
Europe's freshwater and marine resources may seem limitless but they are under increasing pressure from pollution, over-exploitation and climate change. The European Environment Agency's (EEA) Signals 2018 (https://www.eea.europa.eu/signals/) explores the state and trends of Europe’s waters, asking how healthy rivers, lakes, groundwater resources and seas can be ensured for future generations.

Europe’s freshwater and marine resources may seem limitless but they are under increasing pressure from pollution, over-exploitation and climate change. The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) Signals 2018 explores the state and trends of Europe’s waters, asking how healthy rivers, lakes, groundwater resources and seas can be ensured for future generations. (Photo credit: EEA Report: European waters-Assessment of status and pressures 2018)

Stefan Einsiedel

Studying Laudato Si’ reminded me that caring for our common home doesn’t end with sustainable consumption. It means thinking about the common good and caring for each other. One aspect struck me particularly: “unity is greater than conflict” (LS 198).

Pope Francis encourages believers to be “ever open to God’s grace and to draw constantly from their deepest convictions about love, justice and peace” (LS 200). He reminds us that these ethical principles “can always reappear in different guise and find expression in a variety of languages, including religious language” (LS 199).

I became aware that it is my duty to live this respect and my starting point was to live it in my own “catholic family”: less frowning about fellow believers who might be too liberal, too conservative, too charismatic or in some other way just a little different from my own, selfish point of view.

I encouraged myself to look at them with loving eyes, just as our Lord might look at them. I prayed with them and for them – just trying to foster this feeling of unity.

It helped me a lot that Pope Francis did not only call for unity but embraced it when he wrote Laudato Si’. He cites poets and philosophers, Muslim thinkers, orthodox patriarchs and local bishop councils – treating them as brothers and sisters, as counsellors and friends.

I am now trying to meet everyone at eye-level (or at “heart level”) – and the great thing is that this new attitude cannot be restricted to academic circles or to our catholic or Christian community.  It is only genuine if I treat everyone as equal and priceless.

This new mindset is still challenging, but I am very grateful for it as it helps me to become not only more sustainable but also more human.

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Stefan on a visit to India

Stefan Einsiedel studies at Hochschule für Philosophie München in Germany and is part of the Higher Education for Social Transformation Ecology Cluster (HEST-Ecology), a group of scholars from European Jesuit higher education institutions working on sustainability concerns. Promoted by the Jesuit Conference of European Provincials, the HEST programme is envisioned as a 15-year, pan-continental, cross-disciplinary endeavor to produce meaningful and quality research on seven topics that can be communicated to a range of audiences to promote progressive advocacy in each area.

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