The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Pope Francis starts out with a question.
160. What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal. When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, we think in the first place of its general direction, its meaning and its values.
The question given strikes me as a good one for discerning a lot of contemporary issues involving family, children, and heritage. Some conservative pro-lifers fail this question, as do many liberals who focus on the immediacy of the present.
Regarding ecology, more questions come:
Unless we struggle with these deeper issues, I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results. But if these issues are courageously faced, we are led inexorably to ask other pointed questions:
- What is the purpose of our life in this world?
- Why are we here?
- What is the goal of our work and all our efforts?
- What need does the earth have of us?
It is no longer enough, then, simply to state that we should be concerned for future generations. We need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity. Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.