I try not to get too religious or political here, since this is an author's blog about nature and mythology, but this is too apropos to ignore. If you want to read Pope Francis Encyclical on Ecology yourself, I'll warn you, like all philosophical, theological, historical and scientific writing there is a bit of staging and wordiness to it. [I generally leave the seriously factual stuff to my husband and let my inner teenager yawn. But I am forcing myself to digest this because I really wanted to read first hand Pope Francis's view.]
I've been impressed with Pope Francis's stances on many things so far, from his statements about abortion, homosexuality and his year of the family focus, I feel like this guy is hearing from the same God that I do. [Always comforting.]
Defining the problem -“see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder [Mother Earth] 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.”
humans frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”.
The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves” - Pope Benedict
“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” - Patriarch Bartholomew
“underlying the ecological problem is the lack of respect for life... the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers... economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples... pollution or environmental destruction is the result of an unnatural and reductionist vision... leads to a genuine contempt for man.” Pope John Paul II
What to do – [My favorite part of any factual writing] Individuals - “Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its life style.”
- “given to instant gratification and consumerism, indifferent to the damage which these cause.”
- “throwaway culture”
- reduce “smoke from fuels and heating”
- reduce “intensive use of fossil fuels”
- reduce “deforestation for agricultural purposes.”
- “most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled”
- conserve water
- reduce industrial fumes
- reduce waste, especially “non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources.”
- “careful studies...” “on biodiversity”
Educators, Parents, churches (and other religious organizations) - “An education in ecological responsibility is urgent: responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth... cannot be rooted in mere sentiment or empty wishes... cannot be ideological or political... must not be based on a rejection of the modern world or a vague desire to return to some "paradise lost"... responsibility entails a genuine conversion in ways of thought and behaviour... The first educator, however, is the family, where the child learns to respect his neighbour and to love nature.”
“aesthetic value of creation cannot be overlooked... nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity...Even cities.. have a beauty... ought to motivate people to care for their surroundings.”
“responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith. As a result, they are conscious of a vast field of ecumenical and interreligious cooperation opening up before them.”
Governments - “The ecological crisis reveals the urgent moral need for a new solidarity [MY TEN YEAR OLD HAS REALIZED THIS ON HIS OWN ALREADY. WHY CAN'T GOVERNMENTS WORK THIS OUT?]... share responsibility... of a natural and social environment... both peaceful and healthy... newly industrialized States cannot, for example, be asked to apply restrictive environmental standards to their emerging industries unless the industrialized States first apply them within their own boundaries... countries in the process of industrialization are not morally free to repeat the errors made in the past by others, and recklessly continue to damage the environment through industrial pollutants, radical deforestation or unlimited exploitation of non-renewable resources... urgent need to find a solution to the treatment and disposal of toxic wastes.”
no “ecological balance... without.. addressing...Rural poverty and unjust land distribution”
“Despite the international agreements which prohibit chemical, bacteriological and biological warfare, the fact is that laboratory research continues to develop new offensive weapons capable of altering the balance of nature.”
“intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet... everything … connected”
“Many... [with] more resources and economic or political power... concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climate change.”
“emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases... drastically reduced... substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
I must confess. I haven't finished reading all of the encyclical yet. It's 62 pages. But this is a start at summarizing, mostly stuff we've heard before but with the power of religious authority maybe people will start listening. Also Pope Francis and other religious leaders have clarified for me the root problem of our ecological crisis: selfish disregard for others at all levels.
If I come across more thought provoking bits in my future reading I'll post again. And just a plug at self promotion, this message seems to have a lot in common with my view of nature as shared in my post Can an Animist be a Catholic Christian?
What do you think of the encyclical on ecology?
How do you feel about Pope Francis?