The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Communities are more than a collection of homes and businesses. What of public spaces? How do modern people view them? Do they help people combat modern individualism and personal narcissism?
151. There is also a need to protect those common areas, visual landmarks and urban landscapes which increase our sense of belonging, of rootedness, of “feeling at home” within a city which includes us and brings us together. It is important that the different parts of a city be well integrated and that those who live there have a sense of the whole, rather than being confined to one neighborhood and failing to see the larger city as space which they share with others. Interventions which affect the urban or rural landscape should take into account how various elements combine to form a whole which is perceived by its inhabitants as a coherent and meaningful framework for their lives. Others will then no longer be seen as strangers, but as part of a “we” which all of us are working to create.
Common spaces permit the free movement of people in a place where it is expected to see one another and to feel free to communicate in a safe, public, and shared space.
For this same reason, in both urban and rural settings, it is helpful to set aside some places which can be preserved and protected from constant changes brought by human intervention.