Laudato Si 2: A Harmed Sister

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

2. 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. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Picking up on the theme in LS 1, I’d say the diagnosis given here is brutal, but largely accurate. We give a great deal of honor to places we human beings have designated as sacred. Quite often, they are the works of our hands. Quite simply, evidence of sickness would not be tolerated on the premises of our monuments, office buildings, or religious structures. We Catholics would see our own edifices as symbolic of Christ.

I think Pope Francis is probing to the heart of things to describe human domination and waste as connected to sin. Is he right to consider the Earth as maltreated like a person? Are Catholics correct in attributing honor to our altars, sanctuaries, and churches? Those citations from Saint Paul and the Pentateuch are not random word connections.

What do you think?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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