26 May 2023
Education and Action for a Laudato Si’ Future

by Jennifer Kryszak, Director of Strategic Planning for the Franciscan Peace Center


Throughout our Laudato Si’ Action Plan, the Clinton Franciscans include goals that call us to educate the public about issues like human trafficking, immigration, nuclear disarmament, and systemic racism. There are many ways to educate people. Webinars like our Understanding the Iowa Gun Amendment: A Faith-based Approach, draw on the expertise of individuals to discuss issues in depth while our podcast, The “Center,” features conversations that highlight practices related to active nonviolence. The Franciscan Peace Center’s Movies that Matter series is another way we engage the public to learn about some of these issues. Movies like Trafficked in America and Inequality for All let us step into another’s experiences and better understand the context of issues and how we might work to make a difference in people’s lives. 


Expanding people’s knowledge about issues is clearly important, but education hopefully inspires people to take action to address systemic issues. A Clinton Franciscan Associate Lanie Lass notes that the LSAP Committee on the death penalty holds vigils for executions with the hope that there will be a time when these vigils are not needed. This hope leads members of the committee to do more, including educating people about the death penalty and the criminal justice system. For many people, the prison industrial complex and the death penalty are distant thoughts or viewed as necessary parts of our contemporary society. Changing the consciousness of people, though, is a journey that includes facts and stories. As Lass notes, “We hope to educate with statistics that prove how varying cost factors, the unjust conviction of the innocent, and abusive background of persons on death row have a significant bearing on each individual case.” These statistics provide reasons for questioning a system. Moreover, the committee continues to offer the stories of individuals on death row to enable people to hear the complexity of situations and be called to value the dignity of each person. Sharing films like The People vs. The Death Penalty and websites like The Visiting Room Project enable us to enter into another person’s story and see how systemic structures, like the criminal justice system, affect people and often are slanted against people of color and those who live in poverty. This recognition leads the committee and others to advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, including taking steps to ensure that it is not reinstated in Iowa. 


This relationship between education and advocacy is linked in the Franciscan Peace Center’s Action Alert Digest. This weekly newsletter contains links to current news items related to the ecological and social justice issues that are central to our Laudato Si’ Action Plan. A recent edition of the Digest informed people about the violence in Sudan, the impact of restorative justice, attempts to cancel the production of nuclear weapons, the end of Title 42, the ecological impact of used clothing imports in Africa, weakened child labor regulations in the U.S., the funding crisis for rape crisis services, the impact of SNAP work requirements, and scheduled executions. While sharing information about important issues, the Digest also calls us to take action to promote change in society through advocacy opportunities. The Action Alert Digest called on readers to urge President Biden and Congress to ban assault weapons, to advocate for the House of Representatives to oppose the extreme immigration bill H.R. 2, to ask world leaders to pass a strong plastics treaty, and to stop the execution of Michael Tisius in Missouri. The expansive coverage of topics as well as news and advocacy opportunities enable the Digest to not only have a role in educating people but to inspire deeper reflection and action. 


While we continue to educate ourselves and to advocate for change in our society, the Clinton Franciscan family invites you to join us on this journey. Sign up to receive the Action Alert Digest or Upcoming Events, which includes programs sponsored by the Franciscan Peace Center and other organizations, or hear our podcast “The ‘Center.’” You can also receive text messages about programs from the Franciscan Peace Center. Together we can be empowered to change society to care for creation and all of humanity, to work towards a Laudato Si’ future.


Back to Laudato Si Week Reflections 2023