"With an exclusive introduction by the acclaimed Harvard historian Naomi Oreskes, this is the complete text of the landmark encyclical letter by Pope Francis that has rocked the international community (Time). The only secular edition of the Pope s remarks, the Encyclical on Climate Change and Inequalityis an essential document of our times as significant a contribution to the movement for environmental justice and human rights as Rachel Carson s Silent Springwas 55 years ago."
Our pope’s recent encyclical is a groundbreaking text. I would go as far as to call it a turning point in the role of the Catholic Church in the history of humanity. There have been other inflection points, but I don’t think they’ve been as pronounced.
I think the best way to illustrate this is by looking directly at the text.
Table of Contents
- What is Happening to Our Common Home
- The Gospel of Creation
- The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
- Integral Ecology
- Lines of Approach and Action
- Ecological Education and Spirituality
“[Saint] Francis asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there.”
“Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it."
“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all."
“We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves."
“Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and nature. Todays media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise."
“The foreign debt of poor countries has become a way of controlling them, yet this is not the case where ecological debt is concerned."
“As often occurs in periods of deep crisis which require bold decisions, we are tempted to think that what is happening is not entirely clear."
“Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality."
“God rejects every claim to absolute ownership."
“Land shall not be sold in perpetuity.” - Leviticus
“Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other."
“There is always a social mortgage on all private property.” - Saint John Paul II
“Contemporary man has not been trained to use power well, because our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience."
“It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology."
“The fragmentation of knowledge proves helpful for concrete applications, and yet it often leads to a loss of appreciation for the whole."
“We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental."
“There is a need to incorporate the history, culture, and architecture of each place, thus preserving its original identity."
For indigenous peoples, “land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values."
“The post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history."
“It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gains, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster. Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress."
“No one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace with him or herself… Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life."
“We tend to demean contemplative rest as something unproductive and unnecessary, but this is to do away wit the very thing which is most important about work: its meaning."