Encyclical Sunday: What Did You Hear about 'Laudato Si'' at Mass?

Working for a Catholic media organization can at times skew one's sense of what is Big News in the church and beyond. For the past week it has been, in the words of my colleague Kevin Clarke, #encyclapalooza here at America. My time was consumed reading the nearly 200-page papal document, searching for 140-character bits of wisdom to tweet and pulling together responses to "Laudato Si'."

So it came as a surprise when there was no mention of Pope Francis' environmental manifesto at the Mass I attended on Sunday. And apparently my church was not an exception. The New York Times reported that "few priests or bishops — other than in parts of Latin America — used their own pulpits on Sunday to pass on the pope’s message, according to parish visits, interviews with Catholic leaders and reports from Catholics after Mass." On Monday, WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer asked listeners what they heard at religious services on Sunday. Three Catholics called in; none had heard anything about the encyclical. One caller described a homily in which the pastor bemoaned the fact that fewer and fewer young people were coming to church. "What better outreach would there be then to talk about this document that addresses subject that are so important to young people," the man inquired.  

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To be fair, "Laudato Si'" is very long, and asking priests to read, digest and prepare a homily around such a complex document within two or three days is a tall order. Further, the horrific attack on the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston was rightly the primary concern for many religious leaders this Sunday. (Kelly Johnson discusses the encyclical in light of the Charleston massacre on our In All Things blog.)

But it is my hope that as the media buzz around "Laudato Si'" dies down, the pope's urgent call to action will be taken seriously in parishes across the country. "A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us," Pope Francis writes, "and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal." Churches have an integral role to play on this journey of social and spiritual conversion. "Everything is interconnected," we are told; how we worship cannot be separated from how we treat others and Creation in our daily lives. 

So, readers: Was the encyclical on the enviroment mentioned at any point during the Mass you attended—the homily, intentions or announcements? How would you like your parish as whole to carry "Laudato Si'" forward?

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Peggy A
2 years 5 months ago
No Laudato Si mentioned. No mention of Charleston. In Archdiocese of Washington.
Egle Weiland
2 years 5 months ago
Neither Charleston, nor Laudato Si mentioned, Columbus, Ohio
Joseph Kash
2 years 5 months ago
I have been going to mass regularly since the 1970's. I can't say that I have ever heard a homily discuss an encyclical. I also have been reading America Magazine regularly since the 1990's. I don't recall America Magazine ever call for priests to discuss a papal encyclical in their homilies. Fortunately there is the internet. The Vatican Website has made it easy for me to access the papal encyclicals. I have been able to read Pope John Paull II's great encyclicals, Pope Benedict's encyclicals and now Pope Francis' encyclicals. Being a teenager in the 1980's it would have been great if priests had talked about Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. I had to find this on my own. It would have been great in the 1990's if priests would have talked about the great gift of Pope John Paul II's pontificate, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Never heard anything about it at my weekly Mass attendance. I am not sure why more priests don't keep us more informed about what the pope is saying and writing. Fortunately we can now easily access the Catechism, papal encyclicals, papal homilies and other papal writings. The whole truth is at our fingertips rather than the "pick and choose" tastes of our local religious leaders.
Vince Killoran
2 years 5 months ago
My diocese is conservative and so is the parish. No mention of "Laudato Si." Local newspaper report interviewed a couple of diocesan priests. Both emphasized how Francis' message must be understood "in the larger context."
Bob Revitte
2 years 5 months ago
No mention of Laudato Si" but none was expected. Even those priests who will take the time to read and digest the encyclical aren't really equipped by background and experience to prepare sermons that deal with the economics and science laid out in the encyclical. And in all fairness, there are strong and legitimate arguments that oppose many of the points offered in the encyclical that should be discussed but will likely never be spoken by the clergy and hierarchy. The Pope has opened the discussion on climate change; let's hope the discussion is open to all points of view which would be a departure from the one-sided views expressed in Laudato Si'.
Vince Killoran
2 years 5 months ago
I hear plenty from climate change deniers--in and out of church. And, aren't papal encyclicals supposed to be "one-sided"?
Richard Booth
2 years 5 months ago
Vince - LOL - excellent point!
Michael Dowd
2 years 5 months ago
No mention of Laudato Si in our cathedral parish. This is understandable due to the controversial nature of the material. It would be like preaching about Humane Vitae. Pope Francis might consider issuing an abbreviated form of this document that is clearly religious and forget about the solutions to problems that half the country doesn't believe even exist. He could remind us all of the many benefits of living a much simpler less materialistic lifestyle that corresponds with the Christ's road map to eternal life. Now that would be something nearly all Catholic could accept. It is certainly ironic that our Catholic Pope has issued a document that is of more interest to the God rejecting secular and pagan world than it is to the folks in his own Church.
Vince Killoran
2 years 5 months ago
"He could remind us all of the many benefits of living a much simpler less materialistic lifestyle that corresponds with the Christ's road map to eternal life. Now that would be something nearly all Catholic could accept." He did. It's called EVANGELII GAUDIUM. The problem is that many Catholics don't want to be challenged by his message.
Nicholas Clifford
2 years 5 months ago
I heard nothing about Laudato Si. Nor -- even worse -- in any of the bidding prayers, did I hear anything about the Charleston Nine. But of course the victims there were mere Protestants, and we all know about them, don't we? In our smaller, if perhaps not always purer, church we can ignore such people, can't we? How would I like my parish to carry Laudato Si forward? I'd like to see it discussed openly and frankly, but I fear that many Catholics are badly out of practice, preferring instead to wait and see what Father (or the bishop or the pope, etc.) says. Hope I'm wrong.
Michael Painter
2 years 5 months ago
We heard about both Laudato Si' and Charleston. In his homily, our priest linked both to the cry of the Apostles in the boat in the storm on the Sea of Galilee: “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He recommended that everyone in the congregation add the encyclical to their summer reading list.
Cody Serra
2 years 5 months ago
Zero. Zip, Neither on the encyclical, nor on the tragedy of Charleston, SC. Discouraging the disconnection with the actual reality...
John Swanson
2 years 5 months ago
I did not hear anything about Laudato Si at mass on Sunday. However, probably most of us in Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis were hearing about the resignation of Archbishop John Nienstedt and bishop Piche. In our homily I heard about how the problems were the result of the media, and how we should pray for the priests of the diocese. I wonder if I will ever here about Laudato Si at a Sunday mass. I have never hear a homily that mentioned Evangelii gaudium. However, in the past I often heard homilies based on Pope John Paull II's and Pope Benedict's encyclicals. I also heard talks on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body. I think it is a phony excuse to say that priests did not have the time to read the encyclical and preach on it. Given all the prepublication publicity, there was a lot known about the encyclical before its publication, and then immediately after. How much preparation would it have taken to say, “Laudato Si is an important document. I hope all Catholics read it.”? Charleston was mentioned only in the prayers of the faithful.
Philip Cyscon
2 years 5 months ago
I included a petition Sunday and used announcement time to encourage the congregation to read the actual encyclical and/or the commentary by the USCCB instead of that provided in secular media. I also informed them that I had completed about 10% of the encyclical and would offer my reflections after I finished reading. (And not that you asked, but we also had a petition for the 9 murdered in Charleston and their families.)
2 years 5 months ago
Yes both the encyclical and the nine who died in charleston were mentioned at Sunday mass by Bishop Wcela at St. John the evangelist church in Riverhead NY. I hope they do more than that and create an environment group perhaps a st. Francis of Assisi society devoted to the immediate environment of the parish. If we do it parish by parish we can cover a vast area.
martin moran
2 years 5 months ago
My Long Island pastor, Msgr. Jim Lisante, made excellent and supportive remarks on Laudate Si Sunday, after his usual commentary on the readings. He also made brilliant remarks about race relations following the Charleston event. A busy Sunday, but he covered all bases in a coherent fashion everyone could understand.
John Legerski
2 years 5 months ago
I did not preach this past Sunday, letting my deacons speak instead, since it was Father's Day. However, the Sunday before its release, I devoted my entire homily to the encyclical, the anticipated (and, unfortunately, very predictable) reactions on the part of politicians and news outlets, and an understanding of the moral norms and principles that are at the heart of any Church teaching document. Our Christian call to stewardship is a non-negotiable of our faith (one of the central themes of Catholic social teaching), but how we live out that call is where dialog, good will and charity come into the conversation. For certain presidential candidates (no names, please) to state that the pope should stick to morality and leave science to scientists only speaks to the blindness of so many today as to how they see what "morality" is. We look to politicians and pundits to tell us what we want to hear, but the Tradition, the Magisterium and the Word are much more challenging (and life-giving!)
John Walton
2 years 5 months ago
Our homily related to the Gospel du jour, how quickly storms can arise on the Sea of Galilee
Robert Ozolins-House
2 years 5 months ago
Sadly, I did not hear anything about the encyclical this weekend or last. While my priest did focus his homily on a condemnation the "culture of death", he only demonized gays and lesbians. The church is less than two miles from the Florida coast and is not high enough above sea level, yet that was not the priest's concern. His greatest concern this weekend seemed to be my never-ending love for my husband. Sigh.
John Swanson
2 years 5 months ago
2nd Sunday after the encyclical, and still I have heard nothing about it from the pulpit
Jim Lein
2 years 5 months ago
No mention of it yet. Bismarck diocese.
Beth B
2 years 5 months ago
My pastor (San Tan Valley, AZ) certainly did discuss the encyclical. He blasted the pope for basing the encyclical on "bad science" and told parishioners they did not have to follow it. He also said he prayed the pope would listen to the "right people" in the future. For most of the rest of the sermon he demonized gays and the Supreme Court for the gay marriage decision, and said that the decision would lead to the beatings and killings of priests. This priest has given some very good sermons in the past, but he has almost made troubling, disparaging remarks about other priests, nuns, the diocese, and the archbishop. This Sunday's sermon was the last straw. I am no longer a member of the parish, which is too bad because it is a young parish and its members have been welcoming. I remain strongly Catholic, but I will search out my next parish home more carefully.

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