The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Let’s begin the fifth topic in Chapter Four, Justice Between The Generations, in which we look at something beyond our culture’s thirst for immediate gratification. In other words, there is not only a need for examining justice across our three-dimensional world, but also looking to another aspect: time.
159. The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others.
Looking at the world in this way, our notions of entitlement and possession fade somewhat.
Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”.[Portuguese Bishops’ Conference, Pastoral Letter Responsabilidade Solidária pelo Bem Comum (15 September 2003), 20] An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision.