Thursday, June 18, 2015

Keep Calm About the Laudate Si Encyclical

Even before the release (or the leaked release) of Pope Francis' eco-encyclical, people from all corners were speculating, voicing fears, and even condemning the pontiff's motivations. I surely won't lie and say I didn't share some of those misgivings - especially for those of us who look at the global cooling, global warming, climate change issue as an unadulterated hoax - perpetuated by ecological hypocrites.

I also have to admit guilt in allowing myself to be riled up by the misreporting concerning this pope. I guess I wasn't as cyber-connected when there were tales being wagged around about the other two popes during my adulthood - Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II. There were a couple of times I got my dander up when they were misquoted, but I 'got' them. Pope Francis and his way of thinking are, admittedly, a bit foreign to me. 

The youth-loving attitude of Saint JPII was at the heart of the time in my life when our children attended World Youth Day in Colorado. As a German myself, Papa Benny spoke to my heart and to my soul. His logical, professorial way of leading/teaching his flock appealed to me on a personal level. He was my spiritual Opa.

Pope Francis is different. He's far from reserved - a German trait to which I ordinarily relate - and displays a tendency to dismiss ceremony, which speaks to my intellect as well as my pedantic side. So I'm often challenged to understand just what he is saying/doing.

I do want to reiterate that, while we owe allegiance and respect to the words Pope Francis has shared with his flock, we are under no obligation to take it as infallible. As in many other circumstances, we are to make a sincere effort to digest the words but are free to pattern our behavior in relation to them with our own, informed conscience.

In the mean time, as the world digests the words of our Holy Father, let's keep calm and rely on grace, guidance from the Holy Spirit, and an (continuing) informed conscience.

Sources about the Laudate Si Encyclical


Laudate Si (Blessed Are You), the much anticipated encyclical by Pope Francis was released this morning. It's said that the name takes inspiration from the Canticle of the Sun by Saint Francis. 

Rather than ramble on about my own take (I honestly have only read parts of it), I share with you 11 Things You Probably Won’t Hear about Pope Francis’ Encyclical, from The Stream.

1. Creation has a Creator, and is more than just “nature-plus-evolution”:


(75) A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable [...]

(77) “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). [...]

2. Human ecology means recognizing and valuing the difference between masculinity and femininity:


(155) Human ecology also implies another profound reality: the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment. [...]


3.  Jesus sanctifies human work:


(98) Jesus worked with his hands, in daily contact with the matter created by God, to which he gave form by his craftsmanship. [...]

4. Look up from your phones and encounter each other:


(47) When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. [...]

5. Save the baby humans:


(120) Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. [...]

(136) [I]t is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. [...]

(91) A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. [...]

6. Helping the poor requires more than just handouts:


(128) We were created with a vocation to work. The goal should not be that technological progress increasingly replace human work, for this would be detrimental to humanity. [...]

7. Overpopulation is not the problem:


(50) Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. [...]

8. True ecology requires true anthropology and respect for human dignity:


(118) There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. [...]

(65) The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). [...]

9. Real change requires a change in culture, not just politics:


(123) We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

(211) The existence of laws and regulations is insufficient in the long run to curb bad conduct, even when effective means of enforcement are present. [...]

10. The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions, and we need an honest and open debate:


(60) Finally, we need to acknowledge that different approaches and lines of thought have emerged regarding this situation and its possible solutions. [...]

(188) There are certain environmental issues where it is not easy to achieve a broad consensus. [...]

11. Stop with the cynicism, secularism and immorality:


(229) We must 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. [...]

A link to the official text of the Laudate Si Encyclical can be found HERE

To watch a video about the intitial impression of Laudate Si, go to Papal Encyclical: A First Look