The ecological encyclical Laudato Si

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By LEONARDO BOFF*

Pope Francis proposed an integral ecology that embraces the environmental, social, political, cultural, everyday and spiritual aspects.

A blind man captures with his hands or with his stick the most relevant things he finds in front of him. So we will try to do a blind reading about the ecological encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home (24/05/2015), whose five years we have just celebrated. What are your relevant points?

First of all, it is not a green encyclical that restricts itself to the environment, predominant in current debates. It proposes an integral ecology that encompasses the environmental, the social, the political, the cultural, the everyday and the spiritual.

It wants to be a response to the widespread world ecological crisis because “we have never mistreated and hurt our Common Home, as in the last two centuries” (n. 53); we made the Common House “an immense garbage dump” (n. 21). Even more: “Catastrophic predictions can no longer be looked upon with contempt and irony… our unsustainable lifestyle can only lead to catastrophes” (n. 161). The demand is for “a global ecological conversion” (n. 5; 216)) which implies “new lifestyles” (repeats 35 times) and “converting the global development model” (n. 194).

We have reached this critical emergency because of our exacerbated anthropocentrism, by which the human being “becomes an absolute dominator” (n. 117) over nature, detached from it, forgetting that “everything is interconnected” and therefore he “cannot declare itself autonomous from reality” (n. 117; 120). He used technoscience as an instrument to forge “an infinite growth, which presupposes the lie of the infinite availability of the planet's goods that leads to squeezing it to the limit beyond it” (n. 106).

In the theoretical part, the encyclical incorporates data from the new cosmology and quantum physics: that everything in the universe is relation. as in refrain insists that “we are all interdependent, everything is interconnected and everything is related to everything else” (cf. n. 16, 86, 117, 120) which gives great coherence to the text.

Another category that constitutes a true paradigm is that of care. This, in fact, is the true title of the encyclical. Care – for being of the essence of life and of the human being according to the Roman fable of Hyginus so well explored by Martin Heidegger in the book Being and Time – is recurrent throughout the text of the encyclical. He sees in San Francisco “the example par excellence of care” (n. 10).“Universal heart…for him every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection, feeling called to care for everything that exists” ( n. 11).

It is interesting to note that Pope Francis unites intellectual intelligence, supported by scientific data, with sensitive or cordial intelligence. We must read the numbers with emotion and relate to nature “with admiration and charm (n. 11) […] pay attention to beauty and love it, as it helps us to escape from utilitarian pragmatism” (n. 215). It is important “to hear both the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor” (n. 49).

Let us consider this text, loaded with emotional intelligence: “Everything is related and all of us, human beings, walk together, as brothers and sisters, on a wonderful pilgrimage, intertwined by the love that God has for each of his creatures and that also unites us with others. tender affection for Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother River, and Mother Earth” (n. 92). It is important to “encourage a culture of care that permeates the whole of society” (n. 231), because in this way “we can speak of a universal fraternity” (228).

Finally, spirituality is essential to integral ecology. It is not a question of deriving it from ideas, but “from the motivations that give rise to a spirituality to feed the passion for caring for the world [...] , without an interior impulse that impels, motivates, encourages and gives meaning to personal and community action” (n. 216). Again he evokes here the cosmic spirituality of St. Francis (n. 218).

In conclusion, it is worth emphasizing that with this broad and detailed encyclical, Pope Francis places himself as notable ecologists have recognized him at the forefront of the global ecological debate. In many interviews he referred to the risks that our Common Home runs. But his message is one of hope: “let us walk singing, that our struggles and our concern for this planet do not take away the joy of hope” (n. 244).

*Leonardo Boff is an ecologist. Author, among other books, of Francis of Assisi and Francis of Rome (Sea of ​​Ideas).

 

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