Laudato Si 66: Three Ruptures in Genesis

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Let’s continue with Pope Francis’s exposition of the book of Genesis:

66. The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality.

The lack of scientific fact in the Genesis account in no way diminishes the truth contained therein with regard to the human reality. The intended harmony with God, other people, and with nature has been ruptured. The break continues today, as if the evil one sows it anew each day:

They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations.

If the “original blessing” has been tarnished, it certainly follows that human dominion over the planet has likewise been subverted.

This in turn distorted our mandate to “have dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), to “till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). As a result, the originally harmonious relationship between human beings and nature became conflictual (cf. Gen 3:17-19).

In the human view, the ground is now “cursed.” Our relationship with nature is strained, and even our ability to make a living from it is beset with struggle.

Francis of Assisi attempts to heal this strain, according to Bonaventure:

It is significant that the harmony which Saint Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture. Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence.[Cf. Bonaventure, The Major Legend of Saint Francis, VIII, 1, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 2, New York-London-Manila, 2000, 586]

Theologians might discuss: original innocence? If Francis, why not others, if God’s grace acted so?

This is a far cry from our situation today, where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.

In today’s world, war is waged with acceptable collateral damage where both the needy and the environment are concerned.


About catholicsensibility

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