May 24 and Laudato Si

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Ballescas - The Freeman

The encyclical Laudato Si was signed by Pope Francis on May 24, 2015 - the Solemnity of Pentecost- during his third year as Pope.

The Italian Laudato Si translate to “praise be to you,” a quotation from St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Creatures” that “praisesGod by meditating on the goodness of sun/ wind/Earth/water/other natural forces.”

In Laudato Si, Pope Francis clearly addresses the gravity of the climate crisis and his “concern for an urgent ecological conversionof all people of good will” not only to “respect the Earth but also to praise/honor God through their engagement with creation.”

In this 184-page encyclical, Pope Francis sounds off his important message in the encyclical’s subtitle “Care for Our Common Home.” All are enjoined to live out our faith by caring for our common home.

On this 9thanniversary of Laudato Si, allow us to share this summary shared by Christopher Rice in 2022 for a better understanding of this valuable encyclical.

Chapter One of the 6-chapter Laudato Si encyclical focuses on the theme-

“What is Happening to Our Common Home.”

This section “summarizes the scope of current problems related to the environment. Issues discussed include pollution/climate change/water scarcity/loss of biodiversity/and global inequality.”

This blunt message of Pope Francis:“Consumerist greed, fuelled by selfish hearts, is disrupting the planet’s water cycle […] We must…[resolve] to transform our hearts/our lifestyles/and the public policies ruling our societies.”

“Chapter Two: The Gospel of Creation draws on the Bible as a source of insight. The Genesis creation stories are interpreted as enjoining responsible cultivation and protection of nature. The natural world is further portrayed as a gift, a message, and a common inheritance of all people.

Chapter Three: The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis explores social trends and ideologies that have caused environmental problems. These include the unreflective use of technology, an impulse to manipulate and control nature, a view of humans as separate from the environment, narrowly-focused economic theories, and moral relativism.

Chapter Four: Integral Ecology presents the encyclical’s main solution to ongoing social and environmental problems.

Integral ecology affirms that humans are part of a broader world and calls for comprehensive solutions which consider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems” (LS 139).

While the study of ecosystems has become well-known in the science of ecology, integral ecology expands this paradigm to consider the ethical and spiritual dimensions of how humans are meant to relate to each other and the natural world – drawing on culture, family, community, virtue, religion, and respect for the common good.

Chapter Five: Lines of Approach and Action applies the concept of integral ecology to political life. It calls for international agreements to protect the environment and assist low-income countries, new national and local policies, inclusive and transparent decision-making, and an economy ordered to the good of all.”

Finally, “Chapter Six: Ecological Education and Spirituality concludes the encyclical with applications to personal life.

It recommends a lifestyle focused less on consumerism and more on timeless, enduring values. It calls for environmental education, joy in one’s surroundings, civic love, reception of the sacraments, and an “ecological conversion” in which an encounter with Jesus leads to deeper communion with God, other people, and the world of nature.”

“The earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22).”

“The world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. (Paragraph159)”

“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? (160)”

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