Face it. Ecology is the domain of granola crunchers and starry eyes vegans. It’s overly politicized and we often associate the concept of healing the Earth with the Democrats here in the U.S.A.
But Pope Francis does not see it this way; in fact, he was clear in stating that the issue is far from political, but rather all encompassing.
Last month, the pope spoke with the Bishops of France, and clarified that the world’s environmental ills will not be cured until there is a transformation of the human heart, a shift from viewing the world as an object to exploit and profit from, to the treasured home of our shared human family, a place where “everything is connected, everything is related.”
And, indeed, all that exists on our planet is, in fact, connected. Whether you “believe in” global warming or climate change or not, there’s no denying that pollution and unbridled development has wreaked havoc on innumerable ecosystems far and wide.
We need not step further than our own island to see this is true; when the Fresh Kills landfill was open, it was literally a stinking,oozing sore that reminded us all each day that the “throwaway culture” of the 20th century had some serious flaws.”
Pope Francis had this to say on the matter of living more in tune with Nature:
“There will be no new relationship with nature without a new human being, and it is by healing the human heart that one can hope to heal the world from its social and environmental unrest.”
Here, he reminds us that societal ills cannot be separated from environmental issues. While he does not provide an example, I can think of many. Here’s but one: When a manufacturer moves into a hinterland and pollutes the water-table that locals use to water their crops and drink. Likewise, some manufacturers actually drain the water table, using the groundwater for their own profit, leaving the impoverished locals literally high and dry.
That Pope Francis states the Earth is experiencing “disturbing degradation” is no exaggeration or overly dramatic statement. There’s a massive floating island of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean; there are too many other disturbing examples to even cite.
During the pandemic, we traveled less, as travel by motor vehicle and plane was severely curtailed. The result? Multiple studies demonstrated that our air was cleaner. And so, claiming that the Earth is just too big to be affected by human activity was proven a falsehood. Perhaps this is the only good to have come of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Pope Fancies, ever kind, had a stern warning for us all:
“The health crisis that humanity is currently experiencing reminds us of our fragility. We understand to what extent we are linked to one another, part of a world we share, and that mistreating it can only have serious consequences, not only environmental, but also social and human.”
To deny that our human family is intrinsically linked via our shared ecological setting is to deny science. But that’s not all. The insects and animals also suffer based on our poor collective choices to disregard the ecological damage we cause, year after year.
Pope Francis was clear that “…the Catholic Church intends to participate fully in the commitment to the protection of the common home.” This may seem unusual, in a nation so divided about everything, including how to handle pollution. And, it’s not just greenhouse gases, but also micro-plastics, nano-particles of carbon waste that can damage the body, and more. To shake your head and claim it’s just a ploy of the Democrats is to be be a bad steward of the Earth.
According to the Bible, our world was not an accident, but rather rose out of GOD’s love, a completely forethought Creation that is anything but random. Even if you’re a secular humanist, you must admit that the balance of life is delicate, and conditions that permit life to thrive on a planet are rare, indeed.
The Pope emphasized that we “cannot but respect the work that the Father has entrusted to [us], like a garden to cultivate, to protect, to grow according to [our] potential.” But is that what we’ve done so far? Have we really respected life and the ecosystems that support it? Do we really have clean air, water, and soil? You may be Conservative, and think it doesn’t matter, that it’s not your problem, but the Pope is calling on us all to reconsider this erroneous notion.
His words were clear, and no Catholic should pretend this does not apply to them:
“the same indifference, the same selfishness, the same greed, the same pride, the same claim to be the master and despot of the world that leads human beings, on the one hand, to destroy species and plunder natural resources, on the other, to exploit misery, to abuse the work of women and children, to overturn the laws of the family cell, to no longer respect the right to human life from conception to the natural end.”
Here, Our Pope makes clear that this issue is not merely about Nature, but rather that the same attitude that gives rise to exploiting the environment also fosters exploitation of humans and disregard for society. Can anyone, Catholic or not, argue that his position is wrong? When you trace the steps involved in most of the world’s suffering, it has to do with scarcity of resources and a lack of concern for anything but profit.
While capitalism is wonderful, it should be tempered by a strong sense of morality, whether drawn from the Bible or your own heart. Do children mining mica in India matter? Can we ever justify the exploitation of children, or the utter disregard for life, based on our personal wants and desires?
The Laudato Si’ (Latin, translated into English it’s “Prise Be To You) is Pope Francis’ second encyclical. An encyclical is an open letter popes traditionally sent out to all the churches in ancient times, but still serves to set the tone, as it were, for the present ministry of the Catholic Church.
The Laudato Si’ is dated from 2015, and clearly states how the Church has a vested interest in combating runaway consumerism and careless overdevelopment, as well as global climate change caused by environmental degradation. All the people of the world, and not just Catholics, are called to take swift and unified global action” against our world’s most pressing issues, problems that are often swept away as being merely political fodder.
The Pope wants you to think. (See our article entitled: Pope Francis: Think of The Vulnerable, Listen To The Land )
The Pope wants you to feel. Use your rational intellect; use your heart. Can you really deny that we’re ruining our world? What are we leaving the future generations? A floating island of trash in the ocean? Species after species that will be just memories? Ill health for all caused by environmental pollutants? And worse still, an Earth that is burnt up and no longer suitable for life.
Thinking the word’s just too big for our actions to matter is an unscientific view. The Earth is a CLOSED system; our resources are finite. Enter the 21st Century and get a clue, and stop thinking it’s just an issue that the “other side” should care about.