Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy considers Chapter One of Laudato Si, Mi Signore.
Chapter One: What is Happening to Our Common Home
The Holy Father takes us through an explanation of a great variety of facets of the environmental challenges facing us. Topics addressed include: pollution and our throw-away society, climate change and global warming, global water rights, loss of biodiversity and issues of extinction, decline in the quality of human life, global inequality especially in the area of sharing resources, the weak responses of peoples and governments in regard to the crisis facing our environment, and the coexistence of opposing opinions regarding the future of our home here on earth.
In this section we read, “These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years. Yet we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness.”
Call to Responsibility
Who can argue with this call to responsibility? Yet, many have questioned the need, indeed the right of the Holy Father and the Church to address such issues of science and economics. Pope Francis touches upon this concern as he writes: “On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair. Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems. Still, we can see signs that things are now reaching a breaking point, due to the rapid pace of change and degradation; these are evident in large-scale natural disasters as well as social and even financial crises, for the world’s problems cannot be analyzed or explained in isolation. There are regions now at high risk and, aside from all doomsday predictions, the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view, for we have stopped thinking about the goals of human activity. If we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God’s expectations.
In the spirit of Pope Francis’ message let us take the actions we can to care for the gift of our sister, Mother Earth and let us pray for enlightenment among those who exercise governance and power within the human family. May they be open to wisdom and justice.