Editor: This is a summary of the original article by Fr. Donald Paradis. The entire article is available at this link.
In the Introduction to the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World we read:
“The Church must continually examine the signs of the times and interpret them in the light of the Gospel. Thus she will be able to answer the questions that people are always asking about the meaning of this life and of the next and about the relation of one to the other, in a way adapted to each generation” (n. 4).
Pope St. John XXIII had already used this expression in Pacem in Terris to indicate the direction which the aggiornamento should take. The four parts of this encyclical sum up these signs of the times as so many manifestations of evangelical values which stimulate contemporary historical development from within: the emancipation of the laboring classes, the recognition of women’s place in public life, the emancipation of peoples that once we or still are colonized, universal planning, the unification of the world and the progressive socialization of various aspects of human life – aspects that are economic as well as cultural and spiritual.
It is not much the mere reference to the signs of the times that strikes us in these texts as the fact that they have become a theological source. As Paul VI put it to the theologians gathered in Rome in September of 1966:
“The Council exhorts the theologians to develop a theology which is both pastoral and scientific; which keeps in close touch with the patristic, liturgical, and especially biblical sources; which respects the teaching authority of the Church and particularly of Christ’s vicar; which is related to humanity, as it is lived in concrete historical actuality” (L’Osservatore Romano, September 26 and 27, 1966).
Editor: We share this resolution of the CMSM (of which the La Salette Missionaries are a member) taken in 2015, authored by their Justice and Peace Committee. Each of us needs to connect and become educated with regard to our “cherishing all of creation”, based on the inspiring and challenging words of the encyclical letter of Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ (Praised Be to You).
The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) resolves to use both our individual charisms and experience as religious leaders in order to enter into the conversation on environmental degradation and to transform our practices to cherish all of creation, particularly responding to the urgent call for action on climate change.
The biblical vision with Christ in the center of our lives and communities, along with our vows and our mission as religious, calls us to see the urgency of this issue, not simply as a justice and peace concern but as embedded in who we are. The Psalms proclaim “you (God) visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it…blessing its growth.”(1)
We also rejoice that Pope Francis has recently published the encyclical letter, Laudato Si’ (Praised Be to You), on integral ecology that includes the “urgent challenge to protect our common home.”(2)
Further, it is perilous to ignore climate change and our impact on ecosystems. Committing to this issue, we live up to our universal call to care for creation, which has been part of our faith tradition because God created the cosmos and models for us walking among all of creation.
We also recognize that increasing wars over natural resources and war itself are serious threats to a healthy climate.(3)
Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.
Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.
Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”