The Pope's environmental encyclical
- Perito Moreno Glacier
You can read the encyclical many places, including here at The Tablet, and of course there's a lot of commentary on it everywhere, but The Guardian has a pretty good editorial on it here - The Guardian view on Laudato Si’: Pope Francis calls for a cultural revolution
I think it's really great that Pope Francis has written this encyclical, but I have a few criticisms ... 1) I believe access to contraception should be part of any effort to save the environment ... 2) I don't think Modernity is the bad guy in this scenario, but instead I think the bad guy is just age-old selfish human nature ... 3) I don't think it helps anything to keep harping on complementarianism, the differences between men and women, when what would be more helpful would be to notice all the things we both have in common.
I did like most of the encyclical, though. Here are a few of the bits I especially liked ...
It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.
The God who created the universe out of nothing can also intervene in this world and overcome every form of evil. Injustice is not invincible.
We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people. Every act of cruelty towards any creature is “contrary to human dignity”.
Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed: “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” (Mt 8:27). His appearance was not that of an ascetic set apart from the world, nor of an enemy to the pleasant things of life. Of himself he said: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard!’” (Mt 11:19). He was far removed from philosophies which despised the body, matter and the things of the world.
Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices ....
We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread. Furthermore, such actions can restore our sense of self-esteem; they can enable us to live more fully and to feel that life on earth is worthwhile.
Jesus says: “I make all things new” (Rev21:5).
Maybe sometimes people feel overwhelmed by the problems facing the environment and they don't see how they as individuals can make a difference for the better. I would say that you *can* make a difference, that every small effort helps. I'm no paragon of virtue in this area, but I try .... I'm a vegetarian: 10 ways vegetarianism can help save the planet ... I recycle: 5 ways recycling helps the planet ... I use an electric lawn mower: Mowing the Grass is Greener When You Don’t Use a Gas-Powered Mower ... I support environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the League of Conservation Voters, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife - these groups will be happy to email you action alerts about bills that will affect the environment so that you can write your elected representatives about how you want them to vote.