Two Astute World Views of Laudato Si: Pope Francis’ Courageous and Brilliant Encyclical on the Environment

“Pope Francis blesses a boy in the Varginha slum in Rio de Janeiro July 25, during his weeklong visit to Brazil for World Youth Day. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (July 25, 2013)

One of the many history-making features of “Laudato Si'” is that it is the first encyclical fully conceived and completed by a non-European. (Pope Francis’ previous encylical, Lumen Fidei, was largely written by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.) What difference does this make?

It comes from a Third World pope.As Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis’ life and ministry were marked by global capitalism and authoritarian communism fighting for control over his native Argentina. He saw firsthand how both ideologies left the poor in misery. Argentina suffered crippling economic crises as it attempted to play by the rules that richer countries put in place. This encyclical speaks from that history. It was initially drafted by Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, making it a landmark testament to the world from Catholics of the Global South.

It transcends Cold War binaries. Although some commentators have labeled Pope Francis a communist, what he offers is a refreshing departure from the ideological boxes that plague the rich world’s discourse. He opposes an economy based on short-term corporate profits while embracing the creativity and productivity that markets encourage. He stresses the divide between haves and have-nots, but calls for dialogue rather than class struggle. Above all, he opposes the idolatry of any ideology that puts itself before the well-being of human beings and creation.

It foregrounds the experience of the poor. Both the environmental movement and its opponents often seem to be purusing a theoretical and boutique cause, reserved for the wealthy and highly educated. Pope Francis frames his teaching with the perspective of the world’s poor, for whom the climate crisis is not a future possibility but a present reality. He identifies the “ecological debt” that the rich owe to the poor for the effects of their relentless consumerism.

It places the commons over property. “God rejects every claim to absolute ownership,” Pope Francis writes. While the world’s rich justify their pollution on the basis of property rights, Catholic tradition upholds private property only as long as it fosters stewardship for the common good. The world is first of all God’s gift to everyone, and property cannot be used to withhold the necessities of life from the many for the enrichment of the few. “The climate is a common good,” he reminds us, “belonging to all and meant for all.”

It says what is unsayable in U.S. politics. The climate crisis has been virtually a non-issue in Washington, thanks largely to the influence of the energy lobby. “Laudato Si'” breaks this silence, and it calls public officials to step away from the sidelines. It doesn’t offer particular policy proposals so much as it invites everyone into a common dialogue. It also gives voice to the concerns of Latino Catholics, who are far more concerned about the environment than their white counterparts, but who have often gone unheard.

It takes both Catholic tradition and science seriously. However radical this document may seem, it falls squarely in the mainstream of both the scientific community and Catholic tradition. Much of what Pope Francis says here has been said or alluded to by previous popes, and he cites his predecessors going back to Paul VI in the preface. Regarding scientific claims, he respects the authority of scientists who speak from their expertise and takes it for granted that Catholic faith must be consistent with the deliverances of reason.

It speaks of relationship rather than dominion. Knowing that biblical passages can be used to justify a narrative of human “dominion” over nature, Pope Francis shows that those same passages, and many others, call us to relationship above all. He outlines an “integral ecology,” one centered on the sanctity of human life, while recognizing that human flourishing depends on the flourishing of the environment of which we are a part. Like the African concept of ubuntu, he sees the dignity of humanity expressed in our relationships—to our Source, to each other and to creation.

Please support our journalism. Subscribe now!

It insists that we can make a difference. This is the first encyclical addressed not just to bishops, or to Catholics, or even to “all people of good will,” but to “every person living on this planet.” Pope Francis does this for a reason. He concludes that we can rely solely on neither the state, nor an invisible hand of the market, nor the wonders of technology can solve the climate crisis for us. He calls on each of us to recognize our own sins against creation, and to repent, and to reorient our lives toward a healthier kind of relationship. This means not choosing one form of consumerism over another, but directing our resources toward a different kind of economy altogether—one based not on short-term profits but on long-term flourishing. We’ll disagree about how to do this. And it is not a temporary matter of somehow saving the world and then being done. This encyclical will be a lasting part of Catholic teaching, and it calls us—now and always, wherever we are in the world—to deepen our relationship with our crucified planet.”

And this pastor and priest and human being says AMEN !!!

Pope Francis blames ‘human selfishness’ for global warming

  • 18 June 2015
  • From the sectionEurope
Pope Francis
The Pope calls for a radical change in behaviour to save the planet for future generations

Pope Francis has blamed human selfishness for global warming in his long-awaited encyclical calling for action on climate change.

In the letter, he urges the rich to change their lifestyles to avert the destruction of the ecosystem.

Environmentalists hope the message will spur on nations ahead of the UN climate conference in Paris in December.

But parts of the document, leaked earlier this week, have already been criticised by some US conservatives.

It has been dismissed by two Republican presidential candidates.

Humans to blame

The encyclical, named “Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home”, aims to inspire everyone – not just Roman Catholics – to protect the Earth.

The 192-page letter, which is the highest level teaching document a pope can issue, lays much of the blame for global warming on human activities.

Pope Francis writes that: “We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.

“The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.”

null
The letter highlights the loss of biodiversity in Amazonian rainforests and the melting of polar glaciers

He criticises what he calls a “collective selfishness”, but says that there is still time to stop the damage, calling for an end to consumerism and greed.

‘Moral approach’

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi launched the pontiff’s second encyclical at a news conference on Thursday.

The teaching is more evidence of a pontiff determined to act as a catalyst for change, and a powerful diplomatic player on the world stage, says the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt.

The release comes six months before international leaders gather in Paris to try to seal a deal to reduce carbon emissions.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the document, saying climate change was a “moral issue requiring respectful dialogue with all parts of society”.

null
Metropolitan of Pergamon Joannis Zizioulas (left) became the first high-ranking Orthodox Church official to present a papal document

It has also been widely praised by environmental groups, with WWF president Yolanda Kakabadse saying it “adds a much-needed moral approach” to the debate on climate change.

Greenpeace leader Kumi Naidoo highlighted passages calling for policies that reduce carbon emissions, including by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.

But a leak of the document, published by Italy’s L’Espresso magazine on Tuesday, had a frosty response from sceptical conservatives in America, including two Roman Catholic presidential candidates.

Jeb Bush said he did not get his economic policy from his bishops, cardinals or pope – so why his policy on the environment?

Meanwhile Rick Santorum questioned whether the Pope was credible on the issue of climate science.

US Senator, Jim Inhofe, chairman of the US Senate Environment Committee, said he disagreed with the Pope’s “philosophy” on global warming.

“I am concerned that his encyclical will be used by global warming alarmists to advocate for policies that will equate to the largest, most regressive tax increase in our nation’s history.”

However, many academics have welcomed the pontiff’s input.

Prof Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the University of Oxford in the UK, said: “If Pope Francis can’t speak up for our unborn grandchildren, then God help us all.”

null

Will Pope sway Americans? – Roger Harrabin, BBC News environment analyst

null
Jeb Bush dismissed a leaked draft of the encyclical

The UN’s climate change chief Christiana Figueres says the Pope’s message will influence talks in Paris this year on a deal to tackle global warming.

Developing countries are demanding firmer promises of financial help from rich countries so they can adapt to inevitable changes in the climate and get clean energy to avoid contributing to further warming.

Ms Figueres said their position would be strengthened by the Pope’s insistence that this was the clear moral responsibility of the rich.

The encyclical will be welcomed by poor countries in Africa and Latin America.

The big question is how it will play in the USA, where it has already been dismissed by a Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, who is a Catholic.

Leading Republicans have warned the UN that they will undo President Barack Obama’s climate policies – so if the encyclical sways any of the conservative Catholics in Congress that could prove significant.

null

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: