Laudato Si 15: Outline Of The Letter

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

As we get to the final two paragraphs of the introductory section, Pope Francis stresses one important principle:

15. It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching, can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face.

Nothing totally new in these few hundred paragraphs, just an addition to an already-existing body of social teaching. The Holy Father is reminding us that this letter is not pastoral fluff, or optional. It is part of a guideline for being a good Catholic.

We have five chapters planned as follows:

I will begin by briefly reviewing several aspects of the present ecological crisis, with the aim of drawing on the results of the best scientific research available today, letting them touch us deeply and provide a concrete foundation for the ethical and spiritual itinerary that follows.

I will then consider some principles drawn from the Judeo-Christian tradition which can render our commitment to the environment more coherent.

I will then attempt to get to the roots of the present situation, so as to consider not only its symptoms but also its deepest causes. This will help to provide an approach to ecology which respects our unique place as human beings in this world and our relationship to our surroundings.

In light of this reflection, I will advance some broader proposals for dialogue and action which would involve each of us as individuals, and also affect international policy.

Finally, convinced as I am that change is impossible without motivation and a process of education, I will offer some inspired guidelines for human development to be found in the treasure of Christian spiritual experience.

This strikes me as an authentic Ignatian approach. Chapter One may serve as a reminder to non-believers of the Church’s awareness of the problem. But note the intent of the writer: a description of human and environmental problems is intended to “touch us deeply.” It is when people experience life at a ore profound level that they begin to plumb the depths of how God sees and regards us. Allowing oneself to be touched deeply is the imitation of Christ.

Chapter Three interests me as a suggestion that environmental damage is in part a symptom of a human pathology. Any religious leader would be concerned about the real cause of spiritual alienation.

We’ll get to the specifics of these topics in posts to come as we make our pilgrimage through this document. But any comments now? Anything strike you from the plan?

About catholicsensibility

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