Sr. Maura McGrath was one of the religious backing the Canadian response to Pope Francis' encyclical On Care for Our Common Home.


Sr. Maura McGrath was one of the religious backing the Canadian response to Pope Francis' encyclical On Care for Our Common Home.

January 11, 2016

Pope Francis' encyclical On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si') had an immediate effect on film producer Kevin Moynihan.

The pope's comprehensive letter on the environment tackling issues such as pollution, climate change, access to water, loss of biodiversity and their interconnectedness with global inequality, hit home for Moynihan.

"I read the whole thing and right away I said, 'We gotta get this into the hands of kids in high school, university, people in parishes and offices.'"

So Moynihan did what he does best. His latest work, Laudato Si': A Canadian Response, was released Nov. 20. Within a few weeks, the 35-minute video had been seen in some 20 countries and garnered more than 2,000 views on YouTube (

Moynihan, along with his wife and co-producer Anne Moynihan, interviews Canadian leaders in the ecological movement including David Suzuki, Tony Clarke, Maude Barlow and Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson.

Bob McKeon, former co-ordinator of the Edmonton Archdiocese's office for social justice, called the video's summary of the encyclical, along with its references and application to Canada, "quite extraordinary.

"We have this papal document which is international in scope and then we have a clear, intentional, professionally-produced Canadian resource," he said.

Moynihan has been using his talents to turn important Church documents into audio-visual packages for more than 30 years and is a strong believer in the potency of the medium.


"Audio-visual is a warm medium," he said. "It goes by the editor in your brain and goes right to your heart."

He also figured that the majority of people probably would not have the opportunity to read the 192-page letter, so he included important excerpts from Laudato Si' in the video.

"Because they would have seen it on the screen and had it read to them, they will be able to quote it - that these are the words of Francis and he said this. He said this about oil, he said this about the cries of the poor and the cries of the earth," said Moynihan.

The production, which had a budget of about $22,000, was funded by a number of Canadian religious congregations.

McKeon praised the commitment and support of the sisters who made the video possible.

"They've been working on these issues for so long and they're thinking practically and strategically," said McKeon.

Sister Joan O'Keefe, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity-Halifax, said at the time Moynihan approached them about the video, the order had received a lot of writing about the encyclical, but none of it coming from Canada.

"The encyclical really incorporates a lot of what our sisters have been working on and trying to live," said O'Keefe. "So I just thought (the video) was a nice way to participate in something that someone else wanted to do that can go across Canada."

Canadian dimensions highlighted in the video include lack of access to safe drinking water for some First Nations communities; local initiatives to reduce carbon footprint; and the then federal government's reluctance to discuss climate change.

Anupama Ranawana, regional animator for Development and Peace, said the video's emphasis on the need to educate and be educated about climate issues is also a key focus of Development and Peace efforts.

As a critique, Ranawana said it would have been ideal if the video had opened up the encyclical's "menu of actions" to show ways of supporting those most impacted by climate change through awareness, compassion, advocacy and financially.


"Many of our members and supporters at Development and Peace are reflecting and grappling with the meaning of the encyclical and what it calls us to," she said. "There are already great (grassroots) and lay-led responses to Laudato Si' out there and it would have been fantastic for the video to showcase some."

As a point-by-point introduction to the encyclical as well as presenting the responses of high-profile Canadians, such as Suzuki, already engaged in these efforts, the video is "succinct and well done," Ranawana added.

Many congregations that backed the video are teaching orders and will play the video in schools.