Pope Francis, in the first chapter of his post-synodal exhortation treats the first of his “dreams.” Paragraphs 8 through 27 address “a social dream.” What does he mean by that?
Our dream is that of an Amazon region that can integrate and promote all its inhabitants, enabling them to enjoy “good living”. But this calls for a prophetic plea and an arduous effort on behalf of the poor.
Basic Christianity here: the preferential option for those Jesus preferred. It won’t be easy, even for those who style ourselves as good, Christian, social justice, or people persons.
For though it is true that the Amazon region is facing an ecological disaster, it also has to be made clear that “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor”.[Laudato Si’ 49] We do not need an environmentalism “that is concerned for the biome but ignores the Amazonian peoples”.[2 Instrumentum Laboris, 45.]
This is sensible, and addresses what many people native to “disaster areas” would express. Profiteers may preach progress on the front of replacing forest with agriculture or industry, but those promises are often empty.
The rest of the chapter deals with injustice and crime (9-14), outrage and forgiveness (15-19), a sense of community (20-22), broken institutions (23-25), and social dialogue (26-27). Rather than go in-depth on these, I’ll just pull a passage or two out for comment on each topic.