Laudato Si 7-8: An Orthodox Perspective

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. You do remember the Ecumenical Patriarch sent a representative to last week’s rollout at the Vatican. Pope Francis included his input, and he also recognized–as you might see in the footnotes–the contributions of many others to the spiritual and moral thinking of the role of the environment in human existence.

7. These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church’s thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. To give just one striking example, I would mention the statements made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.

Two citations of the patriarch:

8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”, we are called to acknowledge “our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”.[Message for the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation (1 September 2012)] He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins”.* For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”.*
* Address in Santa Barbara, California (8 November 1997); cf. JOHN CHRYSSAVGIS, On Earth as in Heaven: Ecological Vision and Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Bronx, New York, 2012

I still recall many papers I wrote on ecumenism in grad school, and aside from the main topic of this encyclical letter, it is heartening to see a broad unity here. And the unity is not just among Christians, but others who hold serious concerns about the world situation. I suspect the largely untrod path to Christian unity, if not human solidarity, is to share the labors of the grave problems that face us. We have yet to achieve full ecclesial or human communion, but the work toward it is worthwhile.


About catholicsensibility

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