Laudato Si 9: An Orthodox Perspective On Ethics and Spirituality

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

I’ve noticed a few curious questions as to why Patriarch Bartholomew was involved in the letter’s public introduction. Clearly, Pope Francis respected the man’s contributions to the religious case for care for the environment. It seems to be a consistent one over the past several years.

9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”.[Lecture at the Monastery of Utstein, Norway (23 June 2003)]

What do you make of the quotable line about “learning to give, and not simply to give up”? One involves an outward focus, and one might well remain in the realm of personal achievement. Or even narcissism.

As Christians, we are also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”.[“Global Responsibility and Ecological Sustainability”, Closing Remarks, Halki Summit I, Istanbul (20 June 2012)]

If indeed God and people can or do meet in those “slightest details,” then abuse of or apathy toward the environment is a form of religious desecration. Is this language overly strong? Or does the Ecumenical Patriarch have a point worth considering?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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