Laudato Si 6: Pope Benedict’s Contribution

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. In paragraph 6, four citations of the previous pope are given, starting with a criticism of the dysfunctional world economy:

6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”.[Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See (8 January 2007): AAS 99 (2007), 73]

If not a consistent ethic, we have an interrelated one:

He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible”, and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that “the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence”.[Caritas in Veritate 51]

Human irresponsibility is a form of arrogance, and there’s no question people have caused damage to the environment:

Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behavior. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”.[Address to the Bundestag, Berlin (22 September 2011): AAS 103 (2011), 664]

Environmental harm is a symptom of a selfish anthropocentrism:

With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”.[Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone (6 August 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 634.]

Would you agree with these moral concerns of Pope Benedict? Especially that our lack of concern is evidence of godlessness? I think this expands the concern beyond climate change. Pope Benedict certainly argued that the abuse of our planet, its resources, and its life is a moral problem for those who inflict environmental wounds.

About catholicsensibility

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