Laudato Si 17-18: A Fresh Analysis

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Chapter One’s title asks the question, “What is happening to our common home?” Forty-five paragraphs lead off promising a fresh analysis:

17. Theological and philosophical reflections on the situation of humanity and the world can sound tiresome and abstract, unless they are grounded in a fresh analysis of our present situation, which is in many ways unprecedented in the history of humanity. So, before considering how faith brings new incentives and requirements with regard to the world of which we are a part, I will briefly turn to what is happening to our common home.

This chapter explicitly provides an assessment of the world’s environmental situation. So for the next six weeks, we’ll look at the question of physical facts and human activities. This is pretty much how Paul VI approached the regulation of births in Humanae Vitae.

First concern: not only the nature of change in the modern world, but also the accelerated pace of change. Human beings are adaptable, but …

18. The continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and the planet is coupled today with a more intensified pace of life and work which might be called “rapidification”. Although change is part of the working of complex systems, the speed with which human activity has developed contrasts with the naturally slow pace of biological evolution. Moreover, the goals of this rapid and constant change are not necessarily geared to the common good or to integral and sustainable human development. Change is something desirable, yet it becomes a source of anxiety when it causes harm to the world and to the quality of life of much of humanity.

Change is good, yet sometimes it can leave people behind who are slower to adapt. And while it is true some people are averse to change, there is an important consideration of the overall community. Change always benefits some. The question is: when does change benefit nearly all?

About catholicsensibility

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