Laudato Si 90: Cautions on Irresponsibility

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. I have read perhaps two or three persons suggesting that human beings are on the same level as the other millions of species on the planet. Or that there is some inherent godhood with the Earth, Gaia or something. It’s no more a mainstream position than wanton abuse with some impending second coming. Pope Francis is careful ot offer some perspective here:

90. This is not to put all living beings on the same level nor to deprive human beings of their unique worth and the tremendous responsibility it entails. Nor does it imply a divinization of the earth which would prevent us from working on it and protecting it in its fragility. Such notions would end up creating new imbalances which would deflect us from the reality which challenges us.[Caritas in Veritate 14]

The citation is Pope Benedict, of course. The concern of the Church is that abuse of people, especially through impoverishment and the callous ignoring of that, is linked with abuse of the environment.

At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure. Certainly, we should be concerned lest other living beings be treated irresponsibly. But we should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst, whereby we continue to tolerate some considering themselves more worthy than others. We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, would destroy the planet. In practice, we continue to tolerate that some consider themselves more human than others, as if they had been born with greater rights.

Do animals or plants have “more rights” than people? No. Does any group of people have “more rights” than any other group? Likewise, no. The diagnosis: lack of responsibility.

About catholicsensibility

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