Laudato Si 119: Healing Relationships

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

119. Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations.

No question that the narcissistic strain of modern culture actually works against relationships. It shouldn’t be a surprise this Ignatian principle surfaces again in this document.

Pope Francis suggests that the environmental crisis is a side effect of a greater human flaw. Would you agree?

If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships.

More than a psychological approach, Christianity in its truest sense would offer an avenue of respect and dignity:

Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures; it thus inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others. Our openness to others, each of whom is a “thou” capable of knowing, loving and entering into dialogue, remains the source of our nobility as human persons. A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the “Thou” of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.

And thus we have environmental advocacy falling into the same flawed human trap as any of our other obsessive endeavors. Thoughts?


Posted in Laudato Si | Leave a comment

Cor Ad Cor …

cor ad cor loquitorI missed the observance of Cardinal Newman whose feast day was yesterday. I suppose that means I’m not on campus anymore.

As I was reviewing some internet articles on the observance earlier this morning, I found a funny thing, repeated a few places, that Cardinal Newman has no quotes brief enough for Twitter. Fair enough.

I like the man’s motto, suggesting deeply that the path of discipleship is not friend to friend blabbing everything that comes to mind, but rather the heart speaking to another Heart. Isn’t that what we all seek?


Posted in Saints, spirituality | Tagged | Leave a comment

Opening Doors

church doorsPretty soon, some areas of the Church will be entering the winter indoor sickness season. Pastors and the occasional bishop will place restrictions here and there on receiving Communion or touching people at the exchange of peace. More rare will be guidelines on touching parts of doors–where a lot of germs dwell.

I have yet to hear of a directive instructing ushers or greeters or hospitality ministers to open doors for worshipers. But in light of other restrictions, it would make as much sense.

Posted in Liturgy | 1 Comment

Laudato Si 118: Schizophrenia

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Do you agree with Pope Francis labeling what seem to be competing ideological/political stances as bedfellows?

118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology.

Are these really related? What does the pope emeritus say about it?

When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[Benedict XVI, Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, 2: AAS 102 (2010), 41] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to “biocentrism,” for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

Human beings have value, certainly. But with this honor also comes responsibility.

Posted in Laudato Si | Leave a comment

Laudato Si 117: Neglecting Harm We Inflict

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. This is a straightforward assessment:

117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.

It’s not just a matter of virtue. The technocratic paradigm didn’t come into ascendancy through a casual approach to science. Attention to detail is essential in the spheres of science and engineering. Neglect of details–especially when there is potential for great harm–is lazy and narcissistic.

Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, (people set themselves) up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”.[Centesimus Annus 37]

To be sure, St John Paul’s suggest of an environment at war with people isn’t necessarily attaching a consciousness or anything to “Gaia” in the sense of wreaking revenge on humans. It is a simple matter of consequences for actions. Agree, or not?

Posted in Laudato Si | Leave a comment

@ Synod15: Adoption and Foster Parenting

adoptstampRocco whispered on proposed edits to the synod’s instrumentum laboris. Behold, a whole section on “Adoption and Foster Parenting.” The start is worth reading. First because of the acknowledgement of the problem of children who lack families:

138. To provide families for the many children who are abandoned, many ask that more attention be given to the importance of adoption and foster care.

Yes, because this has been given insufficient attention, both pastorally and theolopgically.

In this regard, it must be emphasized that raising a child has to be based on the differences between the sexes as in procreation, which also takes place in the act of conjugal love between a man and a woman, both of whom are indispensable for the integral formation of a child.

Well … a father and a mother are optimal. But one can recast this statement to suggest that good parents are indispensable as compared to poor, neglectful, or abusive parents. The truth is that mom-and-dad couples, with or without biological children, have not stepped up to the plate in terms of adopting every available child. Unless and until they do, single parents and same sex couples simply must be considered as viable alternatives, if for no other reason that any good single parent is better than none. And two are usually acknowledged to be better than one.

I should also point out that remarriage for an abandoned parent, based on this passage alone, seems to be part of the logical consequence of this consideration. I feel for the bishops, especially the rigorists: this is a serious boondoggle of pastoral practice and theology to untangle.

I noted that there is a nod to adoption as a “cure” for childlessness, or to a person’s desire for a child to satisfy something perceived as lacking:

In those cases where a child is sometimes wanted “as one’s own” and in whatever way possible — as if the child were simply an extension of one’s own wishes and desires — adoption and foster care, properly understood, illustrate an important aspect of parenting and raising children, in that they help parents recognize that children, whether natural, adopted or in foster care, are “persons other than one’s self” and, therefore, need to be accepted, loved, and cared for and not just “brought into the world.”

This surprised me somewhat, as there are significant strains in the Christian West that value a child as part of the family labor force, as inheritors of an aristocratic legacy, or as some fulfillment amongst one’s neighbors or clan. “Natural” is a word that needs to change, but otherwise, this section is a very welcome development.

On this basis, adoption and foster care should be appreciated and further treated, even within the theology of marriage and the family.

To be sure, the United States, despite its half-million children in foster care, does take the lead among the world’s nations in terms of understanding adoption and the need for provision for families for children.

Posted in Adoption, bishops | Tagged | 1 Comment

Laudato Si 116: Understanding Anthropocentrism

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website.

How do we interpret that sixteen-letter word? The accusation is often bandied about within the Church, one side against another, and very occasionally with merit.

In the context of culture and the environment, do we see ourselves as rightful masters and commanders of all we see? Is this authentically Judeo-Christian, or is it pagan? Read and ponder:

116. Modernity has been marked by an excessive anthropocentrism which today, under another guise, continues to stand in the way of shared understanding and of any effort to strengthen social bonds. The time has come to pay renewed attention to reality and the limits it imposes; this in turn is the condition for a more sound and fruitful development of individuals and society. An inadequate presentation of Christian anthropology gave rise to a wrong understanding of the relationship between human beings and the world. Often, what was handed on was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about. Instead, our “dominion” over the universe should be understood more properly in the sense of responsible stewardship.[Cf. Love for Creation. An Asian Response to the Ecological Crisis, Declaration of the Colloquium sponsored by the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (Tagatay, 31 January-5 February 1993), 3.3.2]


Posted in Laudato Si | Leave a comment