Thursday, July 2, 2015

Reading "Laudato Si"

Pope Francis Korea Haemi Castle 19 (cropped) I've been reading the Papal Encyclical on the environment - or rather, as Pope Francis calls it, "on care for our common home".  I have never tried to read a papal letter before so I did not know what to expect.  It's certainly a lengthy document - and wide-ranging!  Perhaps a quick tour through the table of contents will be a place to start.

The Pope begins with the most wide-ranging appeal, set in the context of his predecessors, of the Patriarch of the Eastern Church, of Saint Francis, and of the whole human family in its "common home":

I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue 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 and affect us all.
After this come six extensive chapters, as follows:

  • What is happening to our common home?
  • The Gospel of Creation
  • The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis (this title is surely an allusion to the famous Lynn White thesis)
  • Integral ecology
  • Lines of approach and action
  • Ecological education and spirituality.
The Encyclical closes with two prayers.  Here is the first

All-powerful God,
you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
I'll try to post more later about the specifics of this vast letter.  For now, let me just note the links to a couple of posts I found helpful in thinking about it.
Photo attribution: / Korean Culture and Information Service (Photographer name) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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