Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si'”
– an encouraging appeal for strengthening ecumenical efforts in care for creation.
ECEN welcomes Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si'” as a profound and timely contribution to the discussion on climate change and environmental protection. The document highlights the ecumenical efforts of churches to address the critical issues of care for creation as a common ground for expressing deep concerns.
In analysing the current situation the key message of the document is that: “the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view, as we have stopped thinking about the goals of human activity. “
The encyclical does not shy away from describing openly the causes which led to this situation and as the most important cites: ‘the scandalous level of consumption in some privileged sectors of their population.’ Also, the document identifies very clearly another source of environmental degradation, which is ‘technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.’
Environmental problems must not be seen in isolation. The connection between the environment and the economy and the link of both to ethics is of substantial importance. In seeking a solution the document emphasises that ‘environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. ‘
The document builds its argumentation around the key recognition that environmental and social problems are profoundly interlinked. With the wealth of the world is impossible to relate to the scandalous poverty we have to face in many places around the globe: ‘we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.’ The key terms of the document in this regard are ‘human ecology’ and ‘integral ecology.’ The document emphasises that ‘human ecology is inseparable from the notion of the common good, a central and unifying principle of social ethics.’
In seeking a solution the document underlines very strongly the need for new political approach: ‘The problem is that we still lack the culture needed to confront this crisis. We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths and meeting the needs of the present with concern for all and without prejudice towards coming generations. The establishment of a legal framework which can set clear boundaries and ensure the protection of ecosystems has become indispensable; otherwise, the new power structures based on the techno-economic paradigm may overwhelm not only our politics but also freedom and justice.’ Therefore: ‘politics must pay greater attention to foreseeing new conflicts and addressing the causes which can lead to them.’
In order to take a step forward in improving the situation the document invites for a more intensive engagement with politics: ‘it is essential to devise stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.,’ Because: ‘‘unless citizens control political power – national, regional and municipal – it will not be possible to control damage to the environment.’
In its analyses of the situation as well as in its appeal ‘for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet’ the document is inspirational reading for all Christians, as well as people of good will who are concerned about the world in which we are living.
The text of the Encyclical can be dowmloaded here: