The long awaited encyclical on the environment was officially released yesterday. Laudato Si’ (“Laudato Si’, mi’ Signore” which is “Praise be to you, my Lord”) is very good, taken as a whole to teach the truth of our faith. Unfortunately, my bet is that many will pull quotes out of context to buttress partisan political positions.
It is NOT a political document. It teaches our unchanging faith applied to modern times. Of course, it is not perfect as the product not only of the Holy Father, but I am sure many collaborators. Where it is weak is when it deviates from faith and morals to draw scientific and economic conclusions. IMHO, this is a mistake both because those assertions are not as conclusive as presented and because they distract from an otherwise good presentation.
Buckle-up. Expect to see all manner of misrepresentation in the liberal (which is most of it) mainstream media. Their focus will be tight, very tight, on climate change, its magnitude and man’s direct role. They will also misrepresent the level to which Catholics must assent to every statement in the document, particularly those on science and economics. They will completely ignore most of the document as it runs fairly counter to their agenda.
To that end, the editors at The Stream have put together a list of things you probably WON’T hear about (from the MSM):
(1) Creation has a Creator, and is more than just “nature-plus-evolution”:
(75) A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshiping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot. The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.
(77) “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance, and this exalts it all the more. The creating word expresses a free choice. The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love. God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things: “For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it” (Wis 11:24). Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world. Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection. Saint Basil the Great described the Creator as “goodness without measure,” while Dante Alighieri spoke of “the love which moves the sun and the stars.” Consequently, we can ascend from created things “to the greatness of God and to his loving mercy.”
(2) Human ecology means recognizing and valuing the difference between masculinity and femininity:
(155) Human ecology also implies another profound reality: the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an “ecology of man,” based on the fact that “man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will.” It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings. The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.”
(3) Jesus sanctifies human work:
(98) Jesus worked with his hands, in daily contact with the matter created by God, to which he gave form by his craftsmanship. It is striking that most of his life was dedicated to this task in a simple life which awakened no admiration at all: “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mk 6:3). In this way he sanctified human labour and endowed it with a special significance for our development. As Saint John Paul II taught, “by enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity.”
(4) Look up from your phones and encounter each other
(5) Save the baby humans
(6) Helping the poor requires more than just handouts
(7) Overpopulation is not the problem
(8) True ecology requires true anthropology and respect for human dignity
(9) Real change requires a change in culture, not just politics
(10) The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions, and we need an honest and open debate
(11) Stop with the cynicism, secularism and immorality
You should be shaking your head “yes!” Read the entire piece 11 Things You Probably Won’t Hear about Pope Francis’ Encyclical.
Other good resources:
- the encyclical itself, on the Vatican website.
- Acton Institute’s overview.
- Devin Rose reminds us that Catholicism is about truth, not politics.
- The regrettable scientific flaws are discussed at (the excellent) Crisis Magazine.
- The always excellent Catholic World Report offers an in-depth overview.