Wed 1 Jul 2015

A Letter of Pope Francis to Everyone in the World

A Letter of Pope Francis to Everyone in the World
Laudato Si’ is a letter to the whole of humanity, addressed not just to the people of our community but to all people of the world. It is a call to conversion of minds, hearts, and lifestyles. It is urgent, compelling, and direct. It will be impossible to ignore.

Laudato Si’ hears the conclusions of the scientists, and allows itself to be affected by them. Yet, while it acknowledges the overwhelming consensus that the globe is getting warmer because of a model of growth that rests on consumption and greed, the encyclical does not take a position on complex scientific questions in which it has no competence.

What Pope Francis says about these questions reflects what is already well known, and in fact the science occupies relatively little space in the letter. Just as important is its attention to the experience of the world’s poor – of rising seas, unstable seasons, deforestation and pollution. The evidence in the encyclical of the deteriorating quality of life across the world will be hard to refute.

The letter links that devastation and deterioration to a model of economic growth which both creates and is the fruit of a mentality that seeks to manipulate the world and its resources. At the heart of that mentality is a false idea of dominion. What it produces is vast waste, exploitation, and a throwaway attitude towards the planet and human life itself.

The Pope’s own integrity in this area is unquestionable. He traveled by public transport, recycled clothes, lived simply, and loved to be with the poor and the outcast. He lived as a bishop in a major modern city more or less as St Francis of Assisi did in medieval Umbria. If anyone can speak to us with authority on this issue, it is the Pope. He has walked the walk and talked the talk for decades.

Laudato Si’ is a moving lament for a lost connectedness, and a passionate plea for the restoration of relationships – with God, with each other, and with the earth. It hears the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor as a joint call to conversion, and it charts a pathway back to healing and renewal.

There are six chapters. The first, ‘What is happening to our common home?’ is a broad look at the symptoms of sickness in the world. The second, ‘the Gospel of Creation’, considers the world as it should be, in the way that God intended it. The third, ‘The human roots of the ecological crisis’, sees the origins of the degradation in what it calls the ‘technocratic paradigm’. The fourth chapter, ‘integral ecology’, charts a way back, through a fresh way of seeing the world, an awareness of the interconnectedness of Creation. The fifth chapter, ‘Lines of approach and action’, suggests ways forward — concrete steps that can be taken by nations and leaders — while the sixth chapter, ‘Ecological education and spirituality’, focusses on the individual believer and their families and communities, and what each of us can do in our daily lives.

Laudato Si’ will profoundly challenge the western world, and the challenge won’t be welcomed by everyone. Like the prophets in every age, it will be greeted in some quarters with derision and contempt. Yet to most people of goodwill it will ring clear and true. It speaks to the hearts and minds of our generation. It will help shape a new future, and bring new hope.

The above is adapted from an article by Austen Ivereigh on Catholic Voices website dated June 17. Our Parish website has links to a fuller summary, the encyclical, and some helpful commentary.

The following links may also be helpful

Pope Francis and the Environment

An Overview: http://www.news.va/en/news/overview-of-the-encyclical-laudato-si

A Guide: http://www.news.va/en/news/laudato-si-a-press-guide-to-the-new-encyclical

The Encyclical: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

10 Takeaways: http://americamagazine.org/top-ten-takeaways-laudato-si


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