Our Lady of Lourdes June Lecture Series Examines Papal Encyclicals on Peace

June’s reading list at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington is about as far as you can get from the usual carefree, easy, disposable summer beach fare.

Father Frederick Edlefsen, pastor, invites “all people of good will” to a four-week series of talks on Tuesday evenings from June 7-28, which will delve into the modern proposals of the Catholic Church to promote world peace, justice and global development. As a backdrop, he asked attendees to read the groundbreaking encyclicals of several modern popes, beginning with the groundbreaking letter from Pope (now Saint) John XXIII, “Pacem in Terris” (Peace on earth).

In his June 7 presentation, Father Edlefsen will explain Catholic social teaching and its modern historical context, and provide an overview of “Pacem in Terris.” And he’s not just going to lecture: “We’ll discuss it,” he says in his invitation to the series, detailed on the parish’s website. “Everyone is encouraged to read the letter and ask questions.”

The interview and discussion on June 14 will focus on the proposals of the Second Vatican Council “Gaudium et spes”. Addressed to “all people of good will”, the document proposes new proposals for international cooperation, in particular within the United Nations, to promote the development of the poorest countries.

For June 21, Father Edlefsen asks participants to read the encyclical “Populorum progressio” (On the Development of Peoples), written in 1967 by Pope (now Saint) Paul VI. Building on previous encyclicals, it confronts the problems facing developing countries in light of growing imbalances in global trade and finance. “Development is the new name for peace,” said Pope Paul VI. “It is the person who is motivated by genuine love, more than anyone else, who pits his intelligence against the problems of poverty, trying to discover its causes and seeking effective ways to combat them.”

June 28 session focuses on Pope Francis’ two encyclicals “Laudato Si’” (On Care For Our Common Home, 2015) and “Fratelli Tutti” (On Brotherhood and Social Friendship, 2020). “Laudato Si'” is the first Catholic social document to address in depth the issues of human ecology, social ecology and environmental ecology. Pope Francis calls for a new charity in politics and says politics can in fact be the highest form of charity. In “Fratelli Tutti” it is based on these themes and the proposals for development and peace in “Populorum progressio”. He denounces the current tendency of nations to withdraw into themselves in forms of “populism” and “nationalism” which harm the poorest nations and discourage international cooperation.

Father Edlefsen noted that the social teachings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are extensive and could be covered in a future series of lectures.

Learn more:
The “Peace on Earth” series will take place June 7, 14, 21 and 28 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 830 23rd St. S, Arlington, from 7-8:30 p.m. More information at ololcc.net/get-involved/events.

Angela C. Hale