Laudato Si 5: John Paul II’s Concerns

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

Pope John Paul II did not shy away from the issue.  Indeed, he addressed it from the very beginning of his universal ministry:

5. Saint John Paul II became increasingly concerned about this issue. In his first Encyclical he warned that human beings frequently seem “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption”.[Redemptor Hominis 15]

At the turn of the century, the principle he cited was “conversion.”

Subsequently, he would call for a global ecological conversion.[Cf. Catechesis (17 January 2001), 4: Insegnamenti 41/1 (2001), 179] At the same time, he noted that little effort had been made to “safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic human ecology”.[Centesimus Annus 38]

Would you agree with JP2 and Pope Francis that concern for the environment is a pro-life issue? Note carefully:

The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement.

In the 21st century, both popes have said that we have moved beyond scientific and social concerns. The crisis now impacts morality across the world, as well as in individual persons.

Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”.[Centesimus Annus 58] Authentic human development has a moral character. It presumes full respect for the human person, but it must also be concerned for the world around us and “take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system”.[Sollicitudo Rei Socialis 34] Accordingly, our human ability to transform reality must proceed in line with God’s original gift of all that is.[Centesimus Annus 37]

Saint John Paul would urge people to respect for life, and a gratitude for the gifts God has given us through the created realm. To me the question seems that human beings, even many Christian believers, treat the works of their own hands with much more respect than the world God has made. I do not think some of us would be as calm were human monuments to politics, the economy, the arts, and artifacts of religion were callously treated.

About catholicsensibility

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