Laudato Si 138: Environmental, Economic and Social Ecology

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Paragraphs 138-142 cover “Environmental, economic and social ecology.”

We lead off with a basic definition:

138. Ecology studies the relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they develop.

Human beings often attempt a reduction of a situation into separate parts. Can we understand a machine by taking it apart and examining gears, levers, and movements? A chess game by analyzing six kinds of pieces? Not really. Deep understanding requires looking at different aspects, not just the whole, but particular environments created by the object itself.

This necessarily entails reflection and debate about the conditions required for the life and survival of society, and the honesty needed to question certain models of development, production and consumption. It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be considered in isolation. Just as the different aspects of the planet – physical, chemical and biological – are interrelated, so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand. A good part of our genetic code is shared by many living beings. It follows that the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality.

About catholicsensibility

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