Good news and exhortations from Pope Francis

June 10, 2018

In Laudato Si’ and Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis is sharing the good news.  Pope Francis conveys as a pastor and concerned father that he hears and sees that it is difficult and that people often see no way out, no alternatives.  Above all, Pope Francis emphasizes how interconnected we and all life are and that our dignity and identity as Christians is at stake, as well as the ability of all to live and thrive.  This document identifies Pope Francis’ exhortations in Laudato Si’.

  • Embrace our mother. Share. Our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us (LS 1)
  • Hear our sister who now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. (LS2)
  • (Remember) that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
  • Defend human life from various forms of debasement.  Fully respect each human person.
  • Remember we don’t only create ourselves and we are also nature, not just spirit and will. [12] Creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”.[13]
  • Replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”.[17] As Christians, we are also called “to
  • Accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.[18]
  • Be concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. (St. Francis) loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace. Commune with all creation.  Care for all that exists.
  • See that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone.
  • Realize that the call and challenge to protect our common home is urgent.
  • Bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development
  • Know that things can change (and that) The Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our 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.
  • (Don’t indulge in) Obstructionist attitudes, (which) even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions.
  • (Instead take on and live out) a new and universal solidarity. (LS 14) As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”.[22]
  • (Allow space for/include all). All of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.
  • Remember and listen to the young people, who demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.
  • Don’t privatize the resources of the earth (LS 30), such as water and the climate systems, a common good that supports us all. (LS 16)
  • Drastically reduce emissions and implement policies for this soon/with urgency. Develop policies so that in the next few years (from 2015) emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.(no. 26).  The Pope emphasizes that this is particularly urgent and a need, something we must do, for the care of all.
  • Develop more/plentiful access worldwide to clean and renewable energy.  Develop adequate storage technologies.
  • Invest in means of production and transportation which consume less energy and require fewer raw materials, as well as in methods of construction and renovating buildings which improve their energy efficiency. But these good practices are still far from widespread.
  • Look beyond “potential ‘resources; to be exploited” to see the inherent value of other life on earth and the Earth itself/herself. (LS 33) Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. (The Earth and species have inherent rights and) We have no such right (to take those). (LS 33)
  • Bring farsightedness to your faith and work, looking across generations (LS 36. Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained. Where certain species are destroyed or seriously harmed, the values involved are incalculable. We can be silent witnesses to terrible injustices if we think that we can obtain significant benefits by making the rest of humanity, present and future, pay the extremely high costs of environmental deterioration.
  • (Extend greater protection to areas richer both in the number of species and in endemic, rare or less protected species) because of their immense importance for the global ecosystem, or because they represent important water reserves and thus safeguard other forms of life. (LS, 37).  Also, we need the lungs of our planet (LS 37-41)
  • Understand and invest in research to more fully understand the functioning of ecosystems the different variables associated with any significant modification of the environment. Because all creatures are connected…
  • Cherish each creature with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another. Each is responsible for the care of this family. This will require undertaking a careful inventory of the species which it hosts, with a view to developing programs and strategies of protection with particular care for safeguarding species heading towards extinction. (LS 42)
  • Help media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. (LS 47) Thus: allow time for self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter with others.
  • Attend to causes of human and social degradation, including present imbalances. (LS 48) In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet.  The impact of present imbalances is also seen in the premature death of many of the poor, in conflicts sparked by the shortage of resources, and in any number of other problems which are insufficiently represented on global agendas. [27]
  • Contact, encounter.  Lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to (so avoid) a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality. (LS 49)
  • Don’t…attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”.[29] (LS 50)
  • Consider an ethics of international relations. A true “ecological debt” exists, particularly between the global north and south, connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time. The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized north has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining. There is a pressing need to
  • Calculate the use of environmental space throughout the world for depositing gas residues which have been accumulating for two centuries and have created a situation which currently affects all the countries of the world. The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution produced by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they could never do at home, in the countries in which they raise their capital (LS 51).
  • Operate to the same standards everywhere and for all. “We note that often the businesses which operate this way are multinationals. They do here what they would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world. Generally, after ceasing their activity and withdrawing, they leave behind great human and environmental liabilities such as unemployment, abandoned towns, the depletion of natural reserves, deforesta-tion, the impoverishment of agriculture and local stock breeding, open pits, riven hills, polluted rivers and a handful of social works which are no longer sustainable”. [30] (LS 51)
  • Make ecological debt a controlling factor instead of financial debt. The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned. In different ways, developing countries, where the most important reserves of the biosphere are found, continue to fuel the development of richer countries at the cost of their own present and future. The land of the southern poor is rich and mostly unpolluted, yet access to ownership of goods and resources for meeting vital needs is inhibited by a system of commercial relations and ownership which is structurally perverse. The developed countries ought to help pay this debt by significantly limiting their consumption of non-renewable energy and by assisting poorer countries to support policies and programs of sustainable development. The poorest areas and countries are less capable of adopting new models for reducing environmental impact because they lack the wherewithal to develop the necessary processes and to cover their costs. We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities. As the United States bishops have said, we must…(LS 52)
  • Give greater attention to “the needs of the poor, the weak and the vulnerable, in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests”.[31] We need to…(LS 53)
  • Strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference. (LS 53)
  • Hear how these situations (recounted in Laudato Si’) have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. (LS 53). We are called to
  • Be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness. The problem is that we still lack (and we must) (LS 53)
  • Develop the culture needed to confront this crisis. (LS 53) We must be and…
  • (Present the) leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all here now, with equal regard for coming generations. (LS 53) (We must…
  • (Establish and use) a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems; otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice. (LS 53)
  • (We must rescue our politics from weak responses and capture by) technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected. The Aparecida Document urges that “the interests of economic groups which irrationally demolish sources of life should not prevail in dealing with natural resources”.[32] The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interestsDevelop(ing) more effective controls and work(ing) to combat corruption. People may well have a growing ecological sensitivity but it has not succeeded in changing their harmful habits of consumption which, rather than decreasing, appear to be growing all the more. A simple example is the increasing use and power of air-conditioning. The markets, which immediately benefit from sales, stimulate ever greater demand. An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at such behavior, which at times appears self-destructive (LS 55)… economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions constantly dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is. As a result, “whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule”.[33] (LS 56). It is foreseeable that, once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars, albeit under the guise of noble claims… political planning tends to lack breadth of vision. What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so? (LS 57)
  • Maintain hope.  show that men and women are still capable of intervening positivel For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love. (LS 58)
  • Beware of confusion and excuses that delay action to save othersAs often occurs in periods of deep crisis which require bold decisions, we are tempted to think that what is happening is not entirely clear. Superficially, apart from a few obvious signs of pollution and deterioration, things do not look that serious, and the planet could continue as it is for some time. Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption. This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen. (LS 59)
  • Listen to and look at/for a wide range of solutions.  Acknowledge that different approaches and lines of thought have emerged regarding this situation and its possible solutions… Viable future scenarios will have to be generated between these extremes, since there is no one path to a solution. This makes a variety of proposals possible, all capable of entering into dialogue with a view to developing comprehensive solutions. (LS 60) We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. (LS 61)
  • Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. Still, we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point, due to the rapid pace of change and degradation; these are evident in large-scale natural disasters as well as social and even financial crises, for the world’s problems cannot be analyzed or explained in isolation. (LS 61)
  • Realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality. Respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and poetry, their interior life and spirituality.(LS 63) If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it. (LS 63) importance of other religions, perspectives, insights
  • (Show the path of) how faith convictions can offer Christians, and some other believers as well, ample motivation to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of their brothers and sisters. If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn “realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith”.[36] It is good for humanity and the world at large when we believers better recognize the ecological commitments which stem from our convictions…“keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies (LS 67)
  • Live a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. LS 67: Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1); to him belongs “the earth with all that is within it” (Dt 10:14). Thus God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev 25:23).
  • Respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world (LS 68). Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.