I am writing to you this week from the beauty and peace of Magaliesburg, Gauteng. After six months of very intense activity getting to know the parish I am now enjoying a few days of complete rest and tranquillity, helped along by the sunny weather and an extraordinarily beautiful setting.
Indeed the setting is perfect for commenting on Pope Francis new encyclical, Laudato Si’ on the environment. Surrounded by stunning manifestations of the charm of nature, it is impossible not to be moved by Pope Francis’ plea to respect our mother earth.
In six chapters the Pope makes a strong case for “integral ecology”, an approach to the environment which is in harmony with the whole of life and with the nature of our planet.
The Pope begins by describing the reality of the ecological crisis we all face. He pulls no punches in analysing the mistakes we have made as human beings and the horrible way we have treated mother nature.
The vision the Pope puts before us (in chapter 2) he calls “The Gospel of Creation” which gives us a glimpse of the plan of God for everything that exists. What stand out for us is the responsibility we have as “stewards” of God’s creation.
There is no shirking the human roots of the present crisis (chapter three). Human greed and an unbridled adoration of market forces have led to the critical state of our planet today.
The heart of the encyclical comes in chapter 4 when Pope Francis proposes to replace the technological paradigm with a new paradigm: integral ecology. He says: “It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected”.
The way forward for Pope Francis lies in dialogue (chapter five); but it must be a dialogue based on truth and lead to results. This will require new approaches to economy and to politics.
In the last (sixth) chapter Pope Francis puts flesh and blood on his idea of “ecological conversion”. He makes a strong case for sobriety and humility as the corner stone of ecological conversion. He gives many colourful examples of the new life-style which brings about this conversion to respect for nature: from wearing warm clothes, moderating our eating habits, reviewing our use of cars etc.
Throughout July our Thought of the Day on our daily SMS service will consist of quotations from this important encyclical (SMS the word “Catholic” to 31222 -cost one rand per day) and we hope to have copies of the encyclical available soon in the repository.
Pope Francis concludes his message in prayer: “Pour out upon us the power of your love that we may protect life and beauty”. Laudato Si’ , mi Signore. Praise be to you, my Lord.
Looking forward to my return on Tuesday.
Fr Gerard, CSsR