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Ten realizations arising from Laudato si’

31 July 2015
Fr Tony visiting upland indigenous youth doing carpentry construction in Bukidnon, Philippines as part of a broader integral ecology program for young adults, with skills training and values formation. Photo credit: ESSC

Fr Tony visiting upland indigenous youth doing carpentry construction in Bukidnon, Philippines as part of a broader integral ecology program for young adults, with skills training and values formation. (Photo: ESSC)

Antonio F Moreno, SJ

Laudato si’ is unparalleled in many senses. In Catholic social thought, it is the first papal encyclical that treats the environment and climate change issues in the light of faith. No other papal encyclical has received as much attention before and after its release as this one. Arguably, this is one of the most influential papal encyclicals that could have lasting impact on our faith, human development and environment. Rather than make a commentary on the encyclical, I appropriated 10 realizations for myself after reading the encyclical.

First, the beauty of God’s creation is priceless. We must humbly accept the wrong we have done to God’s creation due to our consumerist tendencies and preference for short-term gains over long-term dividends. This is a good starting point for our resolve to work vigorously for the care of our “shared inheritance.”

Second, we need to protect and promote our interconnectedness. The earth is not an external reality that we simply exploit and dominate for our own use. What is good for the earth is also good for humanity.

Third, our common good is our common home, that is, planet earth. We all belong to the same habitat. The promotion of the common good means we examine and minimize our sense of entitlement. There are serious environmental limitations to largely rights-based approach to the earth’s resources.

Fourth, the throwaway mentality needs to be transformed by a culture of caring for the environment. We need to pass on to future generations a livable and sustainable world. From a sense of “ownership” we are invited to adopt an attitude of “stewardship” in the way we relate with creation.

Fifth, the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth are closely intertwined. The poor, being the most vulnerable, suffer most in environmental degradation and climate change. “A deep sense of communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings” (#91). The issue of justice is of paramount importance in the way we care for the poor and the earth. The demand of justice is not only applicable between those who have more and those who have less access to natural resources. It also retains its application between the present and future generations.

Sixth, while there have been good initiatives and programs to mitigate the impact of environmental catastrophes, much more needs to be done in global relations, national and local spheres, families and individual interactions to make a real difference. Collaboration, dialogue and pursuit of the common good are crucial in addressing our ecological and environmental challenges.

Seventh, a spirituality of creation can be a driving force and motivation to protect our common home. “God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things” (#77). Denial of God as the creator of the universe reinforces the notion of the autonomy and supremacy of humanity with a license to exploit creation at will.

Eighth, a new lifestyle and spirituality must be pursued through ecological education happening in various settings. The family appears to be a privileged location for ecological education. In the end, the formation of a global citizenship which privileges ecological sensitivity and advocacy can take root in the lives of inhabitants of the earth.

Ninth, it is important to review the excesses of dominant technocratic paradigms and modern anthropocentricism that have caused the exploitation of nature and God’s creation. While technology has brought about some genuine development of peoples, we must continually review its impact on ecology and human development.

Tenth, given the weakening authority of nation states and the prevalence of transnational economic and financial sectors over the political, the creation of a true world political authority seems the way forward to govern effectively the “global commons” (#s 174-175). We have enough international, national and local arrangements on climate change and environmental protection, but the challenge it seems is the mechanism and political will to translate beautiful ideas into concrete realities.

2015_07_15_Reflection_sjprovFr Antonio “Tony” Moreno, SJ is the Provincial of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus.

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4 Responses to Ten realizations arising from Laudato si’

  1. Uriel Henao R... on 5 August 2015 at 9:46 am

    Felicitaciones padre, ha hecho unas muy buenas reflexiones acerca de las enseñanzas y el llamado que nos hace el Papa Francisco en su reciente Enciclica “LAUDATO SI”, todos los seres humanos estamos llamados a conservar, cuidar y proteger nuestra única casa que tenemos en el universo, nuestra tierra, creada por Dios para que en ella vivamos conforme a sus deseos de que todos estemos bien, compartiendo todo lo creado con todos los seres vivos que en ella habitamos. El consumismo desbordado y el afán de enriquecimiento rápido de unos pocos han ido destruyendo todo lo que esta a nuestro alrededor, todo lo que Dios puso a nuestra disposición, hemos ido acabando con el agua, fuente de vida, con los bosques que nos brindan oxigeno y bienestar, hemos ido destruyendo y acabando con diferentes especies tanto de fauna y flora, esperamos que este llamado que nos hace el Papa Francisco ilumine a toda la humanidad a través del Espíritu Santo y podamos todos hacer un alto en el camino y enderecemos la ruta y nos dispongamos a mirar cuan bella es la creación y nos arrepintamos de todo el daño que le hemos causado a nuestra tierra y empecemos a caminar por el camino de la vida bajo las enseñanzas de nuestro padre Dios en la persona de Jesús.

  2. pedro walpole sj on 2 August 2015 at 4:19 pm

    yes, we can’t say it all at once but, global policy, education, communities of practice and networks… are needed. We need something of the UN and we need what in part seems to be emerging, communities of practice on a broad and varied scale. There is a growing participation locally whether urban or rural that considers likeminded neighbours and everything from the food we want to grow to the education we need to have. I think we will see major transitions not only in basic education but in interdisciplinary higher education. Business schools are also sensing the shift and there is even consideration for a ‘spirit drive’ MBA. We are challenged to give this focus in all we do.Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

  3. Malcolm Rodrigues s.j. on 1 August 2015 at 2:21 am

    I certainly share Tom McAuley’s views, but I differ in the approach — I believe that we have to direct our energies to the young generation — we have to use our pulpits, our class-rooms, our lecture halls, our news media, etc and even our way of evangelization to inculcate the necessity for a balance intellectual and committed orientation to the environment and the impact of climate change, and this, not only to the catholic young but to every single young person, who can be reached. If this begins and grows, then the pressure on the more political and economic structures will increase.
    I thank Fr. Mc Auley for his comment on Fr. Moreno’s Ten Realizations

  4. Tom McAuley on 31 July 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Thank you for these ten realisations which highlight and summarize many key themes in Laudato Si’. The first nine could even be useful in developing an outline for revising education towards having a greater outdoors component and incorporating an integral ecology. However, further thought on your 9th reflection (re. review), and on the encyclical exhortations regarding “how we are constructing the future of our planet” (14, etc.) could lead to a different 10th point. The idea of a “true world political authority” seems to be a too simple ‘top-down’ solution for the actual complex of problems and causes which spawned the current harmful political and economic paradigms. One major underlying factor is the vacuity of thought bequeathed to us by the 19th and twentieth centuries (ref. B. Lonergan).
    Rather, in tandem with creative new thinking and development of best new practices, the harmful roots of these former and present ideologies must be identified and changed in every country and institution. The present ‘trickle-up’ of wealth and power which is almost always the flip side of global poverty and environmental harm needs to be reversed in a way that supports bottom-up local and sustainable economies. I don’t disagree that the UN could be improved. But, for a start, there is a moral task of evaluation and serious reformation of transnational structures/institutions currently supportive of neoliberal market fundamentalism. The effort we need would entail a global collaboration at all levels, and should bring about diverse new examples of governance supporting changed economies that serve society in a way respectful of the ecologies of our planet.

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