Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home

From the opening paragraph of Laudato Si’, Francis lays out his vision: “… our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.”1

In other words, care for the environment is a relational issue, and at the heart of the problem of climate change is a dysfunctional relationship between humankind and the earth we inherit along with all the life-forms created by God. So, the crisis is as much an internal, spiritual one as it is a physical one.

It is also, as Benedict XVI first observed, a problem that manifests itself in the way we conduct business globally, including the idea of unlimited growth and advancement without respect for the environment. Thus, we read:

economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions constantly dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is. As a result, 'whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule’.2

The deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture in which we live and to our political and economic systems. These are connected to the ways we view the environment and the way we situate ourselves in relation to the world: that is, we can be “united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth”3, or, “if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs.”4

1 Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ Of The Holy Father Francis On Care For Our Common Home, n.1.

2 Ibid., n.56.

3 Ibid., n.92.

4 Ibid., n.11.