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Laudato Si -- On Care for Our Common Home by…

Laudato Si -- On Care for Our Common Home

by Pope Francis

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One of the many marvelous things about Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," is that it is written in a very accessible style. It does not read like an academic tome as did many encyclicals of the past. Anyone who can read a newspaper can read this encyclical and get something out of it.
The impact of the encyclical is going to be significant even outside the Catholic church. Environmentalists and scientists have endorsed the document. Likewise, non-Catholic religious leaders are eager to discuss the encyclical, which will become a topic of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. ( )
  BCE_Library | Jul 17, 2016 |
I’ve been reading Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything.” It’s a primer in 21st century environmentalism. It’s a large book, and just covers the bare minimum of what anybody anywhere near the environmental movement should be fully aware. But if you don’t have time for such a text, and want something more sweeping and inspiring, read this.

Our pope’s recent encyclical is a groundbreaking text. I would go as far as to call it a turning point in the role of the Catholic Church in the history of humanity. There have been other inflection points, but I don’t think they’ve been as pronounced.

I think the best way to illustrate this is by looking directly at the text.

Table of Contents
- What is Happening to Our Common Home
- The Gospel of Creation
- The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
- Integral Ecology
- Lines of Approach and Action
- Ecological Education and Spirituality

“[Saint] Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there.”

“Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it."

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all."

“We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves."

“Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and nature. Todays media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise."

“The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned."

“As often occurs in periods of deep crisis which require bold decisions, we are tempted to think that what is happening is not entirely clear."

“Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality."

“God rejects every claim to absolute ownership."

“Land shall not be sold in perpetuity.” - Leviticus

“Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other."

“There is always a social mortgage on all private property.” - Saint John Paul II

“Contemporary man has not been trained to use power well, because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience."

“It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology."

“The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole."

“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental."

“There is a need to incorporate the history, culture, and architecture of each place, thus preserving its original identity."

For indigenous peoples, “land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values."

“The post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history."

“It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gains, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress."

“No one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace with him or herself… Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life."

“We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away wit the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning."

Notable Terms
Sister earth
Integral ecology
Social ecology
Subsidiarity ( )
  willszal | May 19, 2016 |
At the end of the Papal document Laudato Si, Pope Francis says that integral political life, and proper ecology along with it, can be renewed by community actions. As the world gains in its understanding of the world as a host of sacramental signs it can "...regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it." (#229) Francis then quotes St. John of the Cross from The Spiritual Canticle that all the goodness present in the realities and experiences of this world is present in God eminently and infinitely, or more properly, in each of these sublime realities is God (#234). This is based on John of the Cross' own reliance on Thomas Aquinas' fourth proof for the existence of God following degrees of being. This is a proof of God based on contemplation of the things in the world and seeing how they are all remarkably beautiful and yet don't exhaust beauty itself. The contemplation must travel further to that which is beauty itself without qualification or specific difference.
Francis at the conclusion of this encyclical letter wants all people to engage in dialogue about our common home. This is the purpose for the work and may have been, unfortunately, a little too ambitious.
A large part of the letter tries to combine the critical theory of the German sociologist Adorno (never mentioned by name) with 'the best research' available on the ecological crisis.
Encyclical Letters are a type of work unto themselves and have to be read with an eye toward the author, a sitting Pope, and the audience, which varies. He wants a new dialogue with every living person on the planet (#3) "about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern us all." (#13)
One of the avenues excluded by Francis was population control. Nothing is added to his not entertaining population control, but historically it has led to eugenics, forced birth control, or genocide.
The best way to characterize this work as a whole is as a human ecology which aims to preserve the planet and its resources for future generations by changing lifestyles which might damage the planet and it's poorer populations.

This letter was not received well in the USA as it focused on mythological idea of technological change always being true 'progress' and excessive consumerism which despoils land and causes further migrations of people.
The Pope was criticized by some readers as being anti-capitalist or seeing capitalism as the sole source of human misery. Francis has, since publication, said that he could have been more balanced in his presentation but it is difficult to see how given his outlook (Adorno) and the untested hypothesizes of global warming researchers.
Some interpreted his statements as taking prima facie true the "claims" of global warming researchers for scientific fact. Francis himself defines this work as an addition to the Catholic Church's social teaching and not as a rhetorical work to believe researchers instead of factual understandings (#15). Obama has used the Pope's name several times to justify his own global warming positions. The Pope repudiates Obama's prized carbon offsets and cap and trade as ways for the rich to continue polluting within the mythical framework of care for the environment.
  sacredheart25 | Apr 3, 2016 |
An important book that appeals for consideration of the environment. As a book, however, I found it repetitive. ( )
  M_Clark | Mar 12, 2016 |
Thought provoking...intended for all. How can we not be moved by this and examine our own surroundings and our interaction with them? ( )
  jsullinger | Feb 7, 2016 |
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"In the "Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequality," the beloved Pope exhorts the world to combat environmental degradation and its impact on the poor. In a stirring, clarion call that is not merely aimed at Catholic readers but rather at a wide, lay audience, the Pope cites the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, and does not hesitate to detail how it is the result of a historic level of unequal distribution of wealth."--Provided by publisher.… (more)

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