Praised Be Creation : Looking at a life-giving encyclical

On June 18, Pope Francis published his much-anticipated encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” which begins with a line from St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of Creatures.” America asked several experts to respond to this historic document. Excerpts from their responses are below. Their full responses, along with additional coverage, can be found at americamagazine.org.

Follow the Footnotes

In addition to the use of gender-inclusive language, a first in official Catholic social encyclicals, one of the most amazing aspects of “Laudato Si’” is the footnotes. Francis departs from the tradition of Catholic social encyclicals by citing national bishops’ conferences and several sources that are not official Catholic sources, including U.N. documents and, most surprisingly, a Sufi mystic!

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Now, while this may seem somewhat pedantic to most readers, footnotes in papal teaching have functioned as a way to alert the reader to the text’s continuation of a tradition. The footnotes in “Caritas in Veritate” (2009), for example, the social encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, refer mostly to the official social teachings of other popes. This tradition reflects a specific theology of the papacy that understands the pope to be the primary teacher of Catholic doctrine, with a strict division of roles between teacher and student. As such, the pope would never need to learn from sources “below” him, not even from statements by national conferences of Catholic bishops. Under the pontificates of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, the social statements of national bishops’ conferences and synods were perceived to be lacking the competency for authoritative (magisterial) teaching. In “Evangelii Gaudium,” Pope Francis addressed this point as he called for the development of the “juridical status of episcopal conferences” with “genuine doctrinal authority” to better serve the mission of the church (No. 32).

While not welcomed by everyone, “Laudato Si’” affirms the authority of these regional structures, with 20 citations of statements from 18 national and regional bishops’ conferences. The selection of statements from multiple regions of the world appears to make a point about the concerns expressed by bishops about the problems at hand. Indeed, it constructively shows how the fostering of an integral ecology is not simply the concern of Pope Francis. Although subtle, this is also a nod to an inductive and more decentralized vision of church, where the statements of bishops’ conferences have value in the formation of universal Catholic social teaching.

Kevin Ahern is a theological ethicist and an assistant professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, Bronx, N.Y.

A Cosmic Family 

The encyclical offers both ethical and policy solutions to the environmental evils and injustices the pope has described. But I would like to note two religious remedies he offers that address social isolation as a source of environmental injustice. One is theological, the other spiritual.

The theological vision is of a cosmic family of creatures of the one God. “All of us are linked,” writes Pope Francis, “by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect” (No. 89). It is in that lived vision, as in St. Francis’ fraternity of God’s creatures (Brother Sun, Sister Moon), that we can overcome alienation from one another, especially alienation of the advantaged from the poor, and the estrangement of humanity from our earthly home.

Finally, the avenue to environmental and social harmony is found through the cultivation of peace: inner peace and peace with creation. The encyclical sees environmental degradation and social injustice as the results of imbalances within ourselves, among humans and between humans and the natural world.

Inner peace, Pope Francis writes, “is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances?” (No. 225).

Drew Christiansen, S.J., a former editor in chief of America, holds the title Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Global Human Development at Georgetown University. He advised the U.S. bishops in the drafting of their 1991 pastoral statement on the environment, “Renewing the Earth,” and later designed and oversaw the bishops’ environmental justice program.

The Communion of Creation 

In many ways, Pope Francis’ long-awaited “Laudato Si’” continues and develops the tradition that St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI established, yet in significant ways it also marks a bold and fresh direction for Catholic social teaching on ecology. As we have seen from this pope in other areas, there is also a shift in tone and a movement toward a vision that many Catholic eco-theologians have been articulating for several years. More than previous papal documents, “Laudato Si’” fervently rejects anthropocentrism (No. 67), stresses “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature” (No. 91) and celebrates rapturously the goodness of creation and of each creature, loved in its own right by God.

The text begins with St. Francis of Assisi, whose name the pope has taken, and his famous “Canticle of the Creatures,” in which Earth, “our common home,” is not simply a resource but “a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us” (No. 1). Every creature, Francis insists, is “the object of the Father’s tenderness,” and even if a creature has only “a few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection” (No. 77). Human beings are called to mirror this love, to “love and accept the wind, the sun and the clouds, even though we cannot control them.” Indeed, Francis even says that “we can speak of a universal brother- and sister-hood” (No. 228).

While St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI affirmed the intrinsic value of nonhuman creatures and exhorted us to respect the grammar of creation, Pope Francis incorporates the goodness of the cosmos into the core of a Catholic approach to ecology (No. 236). Reverence for creation allows awe and wonder (No. 11) to penetrate into our hearts and calls us to a “universal communion” (No. 76), to kinship with all creatures, to a sense of belonging and rootedness (No. 151) and to joy in the cosmos. After all, the final aim of an encyclical on ecology is not just sustainable economies and immediate international action on climate change but also the praise and worship of the Creator (No. 87).

Daniel P. Scheid is an assistant professor of theology at Duquesne University. His forthcoming book, The Cosmic Common Good: Religious Grounds for Ecological Ethics (Oxford), explores ecologically oriented principles of Catholic social thought in dialogue with other religious traditions.

The View From the Global South 

Coming from a fragile archipelago where the rise in sea level is the highest in the world, and extreme weather events are predicted to further increase this century, I worry for our future and fervently hope that the call of Pope Francis will be heeded. The encyclical underlines that everyone can do something for our common home. In response to this call, each diocese of the church in the Philippines, in collaboration with other faiths and civil society organizations, can plan to educate and mobilize communities to protect the environment and the threatened resources and species in the area. This without doubt would leave a trail of ecological martyrs. The Global Witness reports that almost 1,000 environmental activists opposing mining, deforestation, etc., around the world were killed between 2002 and 2013, with the number jumping 20 percent in 2014, a sign that we are in the midst of a global environmental crisis. 

To sustain this commitment as “ecological citizens” therefore necessitates a spirituality that inspires, nurtures and provides ultimate meaning to our personal and communal acts. Though “Laudato Si’” explicitly speaks of spirituality only in the last chapter, the whole encyclical is distinctively about an integrative eco-spirituality based on an integral ecology that links labor and technological and social development with care for creation and the diversity of life forms and cultures, and with a special concern for the poor and the vulnerable. The pope elaborates that in the Christian tradition this spirituality finds its deep source in the gospel of creation, the Trinitarian communion and the world as sacrament of this communion.

Agnes M. Brazal teaches at the St. Vincent School of Theology-Adamson University in the Philippines.

The Franciscan Character of 'Laudato Si''

Pope Francis clearly “gets” both the letter and the spirit of the Franciscan theological and spiritual tradition. One of the most striking and apparently controversial dimensions of “Laudato Si’” is the explicit connection the pope makes between abject poverty and environmental degradation. The truth is that this is not a new idea but goes back as far as Francis of Assisi, if not earlier. Pope Francis writes early on that “the poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled” (No. 11). This statement points to the heart of St. Francis’ embrace of evangelical poverty as a means toward deepening solidarity. What the saint from Assisi recognized in his time was how not just things but also women and men were coming to be valued in financial terms. One’s worth came to be determined by how much money one had rather than by the inherent value that comes with being lovingly created by God.

Pope Francis draws our attention to the interrelationship between the reality of global climate change (largely caused by the affluent and powerful of our time) and the poor, who suffer the devastating effects disproportionately. The category of “the marginalized” extends beyond the human species to include our very planet. As the pope says, “The earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor” (No. 2).  For Francis of Assisi, radical lifestyle change was required to authentically follow the Gospel. Embracing evangelical poverty as a means of protest against social injustices and a means toward closer solidarity led him among the poor and outcast of his day.

Daniel P. Horan, O.F.M., is the author of several books, including The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton. He is currently writing a doctoral dissertation titled “Imagining Planetarity: Toward a Postcolonial Franciscan Theology of Creation.”

The Diversity of Creaturely Life 

While “Laudato Si’” affirms Catholic teaching against artificial birth control and abortion, the only specific comment on gender or sexual identity is brief and somewhat oddly positioned at the close of a section on the “ecology of daily life.” Following a more substantial treatment of urban planning and the realities faced by the poor comes a reflection on bodily interaction with one’s environment as a facet of “human ecology.” Then this: “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” (No. 155).  
How should we read this rather broad claim about gendered identity and interaction? Francis ends the paragraph with a clue, citing his general audience on April 15 of this year: “It is not a healthy attitude which would seek ‘to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it’” (No. 155). In that address, Francis criticized gender theory when laying out “the difference and complementarity between men and women” as a basis for reflecting on the sacrament of marriage within “the beauty of the Creator’s plan.” It would therefore be a mistake to see the seeds of any radical departure from magisterial teaching on gender and sexuality in Francis’ text. A general, natural law-based statement in favor of gender essentialism is unsurprising. Nevertheless, interpretation must attend to specific silences or, in this instance, relative quiet on sexuality against the resounding demand for economic and ecological justice, cultivated at both personal and political levels. In a sense, then, the cards are drawn but the hand is not played. Within the development of papal teaching on “integral ecology” this may be a notable move.   

Elizabeth Pyne is a doctoral candidate in theology at Fordham University, Bronx, N.Y.

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Luis Gutierrez
2 years 4 months ago
The use of gender inclusive-language is a good sign. Another good sign is the invitation for further dialogue with all stakeholders. The encyclical is a significant contribution to ecological sanity by a Pope who is trying to do things AMDG. However, it still evades some key issues, and I have some questions: 1. Even if consumption is minimized, is it possible to have unlimited population growth? 2. Can humans be expected to voluntarily minimize both consumption and reproduction? 3. Is it possible to reform the current financial system of discounting the future? 4. Is it possible to renew human relations within the framework of patriarchal culture? 5. Can the Church preach reform (money, power, honors) without reforming herself? I hope the relative silence on these crucial issues is a sign of openness to further clarification of doctrines and practices in matters of human sexuality, including the male-only priesthood. In Ecuador, the Pope asked for prayers that miracles might happen in the forthcoming the synod of bishops on the family. Prayers, please!
Bruce Snowden
2 years 4 months ago
This is how I see it. “Praise Be” shows Holy Father Francis writes as a realistic mystic in touch with what is and with what is to come, one and the same, yet more, the fruit of prayer, study, and scientific contributions from some of the best. For some, however, Francis’ insights and wisdom are hard to swallow, their mouths filled with gravel of shortsighted criticism. It seems that they predetermined a disagreeable scent before the roses bloomed and holding their noses tight they are unable to smell the flora. How enlightening once inhaled, ingested and assimilated, “Praise Be” truly is. Many have forgotten that Creator God is first and foremost a poet, every grain of sand a poem, every leaf a poem, all creation sings unfinished songs - “My Father works even now” Jesus said, creation an ongoing song, a poem being written, songs and poems of love because God is love growing, glowing, as lovers know love does, and the language of lovers is poetry and song. Holy Father Francis knows this as did his namesake. Francis of Assisi. “Praise Be” tells us we must lovingly remove discordancy from creation, as creation sings its songs, writes its poems. We must protect creation, its music, erasing the smudges of abuse that we have placed on God’s masterpiece, the green earth, the entire expanse of our cosmological home. Thank you, Holy Father Francis.
Vincent Gaitley
2 years 4 months ago
The Church and this pope have had much to say about poverty, what it is, and what they imagine causes it. There are no real proposals coming from Rome about how to create wealth, and in the end, that is what is needed. If you think that shifting wealth or taxing it or scolding it works, good luck. Poverty is the absence of wealth, so one better get cracking making money. Now there's the catch: Rome doesn't really know anything about the allocation of resources or free enterprise or entrepreneurship. Those things come attached to liberty especially the protestant notion of liberty that took hold in the 18th century and helped build America. Now you see it taking hold in Latin America in the rise of conversions to the various protestant denominations. That's the Church's fault for being on the wrong side of economics at each turn. Rome is too statist, too authoritarian, too static to understand the dynamic of market economics. The pope's scolds betray his schoolboy understanding of capitalism. There is no global capitalist system. And bad greedy controlling governments are the cause of most of the world's grief and poverty, not the rich. The successful rich want more customers not slaves, employees, not dependents. The world's bad governments do want zombie citizens, wounded, soft, and malleable dependents to control. And so they terrorize them in places like ahem, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and that charming loving Catholic country of Mexico. And did someone say Africa? Find me one good government there. One. Would you move to any of the African nations? Nigeria, drowning in oil, flush with cash to the amount of hundreds of billions and not a penny for the people. That's not capitalism, it's theft, and state theft and tyranny at that. Don't even mention Asia where so many businesses are state chartered and controlled as in China. That's not capitalism either. Consider Japan. Not many poor there if any, really. Perhaps the best run country in the world where wealth is allowed to grow, the government encourages thrift and liberty, and the people actually feel ashamed of failure and try to succeed, all without Marx or Jesus mostly. If I had to choose these days between unfettered Capitalism (too few real examples in the world) or unfettered Catholicism, I'd choose the former. I've seen unfettered Catholicism destroy more lives over more centuries with its denial of rights to women, to the divorced, to gays, etc., all the way to its denial of truth about the sex scandal and its lack of financial transparency. Now the Church wants to change the subject before its own house is in order. I won't worry about the weather as much as I am concerned about what goes on in Vatican halls, rectories, and all the other Catholic cubby holes. ,
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 4 months ago
Poverty perhaps is not “the absence of wealth”, but rather the absence of democracy. Capitalism’s billionaires create lots of wealth, yet massive poverty persists. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men. The founding fathers would likely see more merit in democracy than a Forbes billionaire list . From 1865 to 1932, US capitalism failed 50% of the time. Capitalism’s wake of ugly economic outcomes included recessions, economic panics and depressions. The Great Depression brought the US to its knees. Democracy stepped up and yielded FDR’s New Deal. After FDR, the US avoided economic panics and depressions entirely and avoided recession 85% of the time. Social Security (enacted 1935) has been credited with virtually wiping out poverty among US elderly. Pope Francis perhaps is suggesting the world needs more democracy rather than more wealth.
J Cosgrove
2 years 4 months ago
Just about everything you say is nonsense. By the early 1900's the US had become the largest economy in the world with one of the highest standard of living anywhere and certainly in the history of mankind. How do you think it got that way? The answer: through free market capitalism. There were certainly lots of problems with this growth in the late 1800's as tens of millions of immigrants had to be assimilated in the US. Why did they come here? Not because they expected misery but because they wanted to escape misery from the non-capitalist economies they lived under. One hundred years later in 2000, the average American lived better than the so called robber barrons of the 1800's as capitalism expanded the US economy several fold. The billionaires you rant against were mainly created in the last 20 years by the tremendous gains in the stock market caused first by the internet revolution where some kid if he had the right ideas could become a billionaire but not by control of land or resources but in owning stock. Similarly the increase in the last 6 years in the stock market has been fueled by government printing of money because Obama had no policies for economic gain so this money ended mainly in the stock market creating new billionaires you seem to resent. Blame Obama. If it wasn't for continuous innovation out of Silicon Valley and the fracking revolution there would have been no growth in the US economy in the last few years because of all the strangulation of the economy coming from Obama's regulatory government. I suggest you read about what really happened instead of posting random junk.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 4 months ago
Regulation is the minimum acceptable accountability society should expect of a responsible business. If we subscribe to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” we must all be accountable.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 4 months ago
“…strangulation of the economy coming from Obama's regulatory government.” The economy was already strangled when Obama took office. Bush’s economic strangulation is the ninth worst since 1865. Most of the worst nine occurred with Republican Presidents.
Richard Murray
2 years 4 months ago
Wow. Now J Cosgrove is saying that fracking is good for us? He's as silly as Dave Brooks! (Dave Brooks also says that fracking is good for us. Go figure.)
J Cosgrove
2 years 4 months ago
This pope had a golden opportunity to reform the world and he squandered it on a false premise. Instead of embracing the greatest force for the elimination of poverty in mankind's history, he trashes it at every opportunity. Nothing except free market capitalism has eliminated more poverty than any other social or economic policy in the history of the world. And the pope wants to abandon it for what? He has no solution just complaints. In that way he is definitely like Marx who wrote over 5,000 pages complaining about capitalism but only a couple on what to do about it. If Pope Francis had embraced free market capitalism and led an effort to modify it in ways to address the spiritual and cultural needs of not just the poor but the rich, he would have gone down in history as one of the greatest of humans. His heart is in the right place but his analysis completely wrong. Instead he has made spurious claims about poverty and global warming. He seems to want to take from the rich to give to the poor as if that will solve both the problem of climate and poverty. First, it will have the opposite effect he wants by creating even more poverty and probably increased despoliation and second it will not solve the main problem with the current world, which is spiritual and cultural bankruptcy. The pope has blown it with this encyclical.
Richard Murray
2 years 4 months ago
J Cosgrove, why are you always gesticulating and flailing your hands around concerning the Pope? This document, and his others, are awesome. Do you recall the unfettered greed of capitalism that led to the recession of 2008, from which we are still recovering, and which pulverized the poor? And by the way, I don't see him as wanting to dismantle capitalism. He's urging us to use common sense and to respect make human-based decisions within the apparatus of capitalism, instead of making decisions based solely on profit, which mauls nature, humanity, and especially the poor. The "modification" of capitalism to which you allude, J Cosgrove, may simply be of a larger and vaster scale than you want to admit.
J Cosgrove
2 years 3 months ago
Do you recall the unfettered greed of capitalism that led to the recession of 2008, from which we are still recovering, and which pulverized the poor?
I have read about 20 books on the financial crisis. The financial crisis was the result of a few large investment banks holding a lot of bad mortgage backed securities. This started a bank run where no wanted to lend to anyone else because they did not think they would be repaid. This created a panic as there would be no money for such things as payroll or the payment for purchases or other transactions. The economy was on the brink of paralysis in September of 2008. The federal government stepped in to provide liquidity and ensure everyone that there would be an orderly repayment of both short and long term loans by the banks and other institutions. The crisis was over by Thanksgiving. But the markets did not know this till a few months later. What led to this panic was the failure of millions of mortgages that were turned into securities. Most of these securities were held by GSE's and Investment banks. None of this panic would have happened if there was not the issuance of bad loans by the mortgage originators and by the fact that the GSE's (FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) were taking these bad loans on their books. The investment banks were also doing this but not to the same extent as the GSE's. By 2007 about 60% of the mortgages held by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were risky loans called non traditional loans. Most of these loans were less than 3% down payment with a high percentage having no down payment. A high percentage of the loans had a very high debt to Income ratio, much higher than in previous years. What led to these bad practices? On top of this the price of housing rose incredible amounts due to the influx of money into the mortgage market. It followed typical supply and demand laws as the supply of money for mortgages increased dramatically due to the low or no requirements on the borrower. This increase in demand for housing caused the large increases in housing prices. Like any bubble it ends and when it does the demand dries up and housing prices fall and those that had put nothing down now owed more than what the house was worth. This created a downward spiral and chaos. What caused the banks to change their lending practices? The answer is in writing (can be seen in documents issued by the government, mainly from HUD.) The government instructed banks to increase the number of loans to high risk borrowers. The banks complied knowing that the GSE's would take the loans off their books and the result was the complete lack of lending guidelines for mortgages. Once this was done for high risk borrowers, it was impossible to limit these types of loans to the poor. Everyone got in on the bonanza. The result was bad loans across the board. Not because of capitalism but because of the government issuing guidelines for the GSE's that they had to fulfill. The GSE's knew the government was behind them so they had no incentive to be prudent and they were right. They were bailed out while a couple banks nobody liked were left to fail. The biggest one was Lehman which was hated within the financial industry. So please do not say capitalism led to the financial crisis and the recession that accompanied it. It was mainly government intervention overriding what the free market would ordinarily do. In normal times capitalist would lend money knowing that there was a risk. For homes this meant a high down payment and a check on individuals to see if they could repay the loan. These were waved in the 15 years leading up to the final melt down. Free market capitalism is the only moral way to distribute goods and the pope hasn't a clue about how it works or else he would not be making the comments he does. There are many forms of capitalism and some of them should be condemned but it has been mainly free market capitalism that has lifted the world out of poverty starting about 225 years ago. First in England and Holland and then the United States. In the late 1700's the people of Scandinavia were mixing tree bark to their foods to make their food go further. Now due to capitalism they have one of the highest standard of living in the world and can actually tax themselves at high rates to get a life long safety net.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 3 months ago
So a poor household (2006 family of three poverty level annual income of $16,000) buys a home for $250,000 (close to the August 2006 median home price). Annual payment for P&I, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes comes in around $16,000. Banks bundle these “poor people loans” and sell the bundles to investors. Surely the $billion annual salary market makers priced the loan bundles properly; surely the $billion annual salary credit default swap guys (the guys that compensate the buyer if a third party defaults on a loan) assessed the risk correctly; surely the credit rating companies gave AAA standing only to rock solid banks; surely "too big to fail" banks had adequate capital to absorb losses.
J Cosgrove
2 years 3 months ago
So a poor household (2006 family of three poverty level annual income of $16,000) buys a home for $250,000 (close to the August 2006 median home price). Annual payment for P&I, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes comes in around $16,000.
These types of loans came about because the government put pressure on the GSE's to accept them from mortgage providers. A mortgage provider had nothing to lose because he knew that the GSE's would take the loan off their books immediately. This particular loan is a 100% Debt to Income loan which was unheard of just 15 years earlier till the government put pressure on the GSE's and certain banks to loosen the loan standards. Anything above 38% was considered risky. This is anything but free market capitalism. Much closer to a statism form of economy.
Banks bundle these “poor people loans” and sell the bundles to investors
At the insistence of the government mainly through stipulations put out by HUD. All you other issues were due to government meddling in the mortgage market and giving implicit understanding that they would protect those who cooperated. Which they did except for Lehman and a couple others. Again anything but free market capitalism. There would not have been any financial crises if the government did not interfere in the mortgage market and insisted on lower standards for loans. The other players in the financial markets did just what the government wanted them to do. Some got greedy expecting that the loans would never go bad or the government would protect them and the result was almost a catastrophe. So the lesson is to keep the government out of the market not that capitalism caused the crisis. But the current government apparently did not learn anything as they are trying to re-create the same type of loans today that brought the national economy to a collapse in 2008. Credit default swaps were a side show and had little to do with the financial crisis. AIG was in negotiations with the investment banks for a reduced settlement when the government stepped in and made them whole. It was not necessary and set an unfortunate precedent but at the time there was so much uncertainty that people erred on the side of making the banks whole. Except for Lehman. The most egregious mortgage lending happened during the Bush administration but the Democrats in Congress prevented even the smallest regulation of the GSE's during this time in terms of holding more capital as insurance against bad loans. They would not let legislation get to a vote because 60 senators were necessary to prevent their holding up of the legislation. The GSE's were run primarily by ex Democrats but Republicans had a hand in them too. The biggest recipients of GSE political donations went to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton so one could say that maybe the problem was with these two individuals as they protected the GSE's in Congress while all these bad loans were made. Fannie Mae held a big ceremony for Obama just after he entered Congress. But in fact the Bush HUD was aggressive with the GSE's to make these loans as well as having the unanimous consent of the Democrats.
Kevin Murphy
2 years 4 months ago
It's interesting that there is not one negative comment about Francis and his encyclical. One must look beyond America Magazine to find diversified opinions. America reads more like a fanzine, filled with people of the same outlook, talking to each other.
Richard Murray
2 years 4 months ago
Kevin Murphy, it may well be the case that Pope Francis' new encyclical, Laudato Si', is spot on excellent. Which means that there is a lot of reflecting and learning that we can do with this wonderful document.
Chuck Kotlarz
2 years 3 months ago
I just became aware that earlier this month, Senators Warren and McCain introduced a bill to bring back banking legislation Glass-Steagall. Of the nine worst US economic downturns since 1856, none started while Glass-Steagall was in effect (1933-1999). A return of Glass-Steagall would also address the issue of “too big to fail” banks.
Bruce Snowden
2 years 2 months ago
Holy Father Francis referenced a Sufi mystic in “Laudato Si” the connection also mentioned in an AMERICA subscribers’s online quote, used here as follows’ “Sufi teaching instructs: ‘To pluck a flower is to trouble a star.” Yes, all creation is related one to the other in origin, evolution separating and bringing to light the Creator’s intent, following the “Big Bang” and its incalculable cosmological fling, nothing left untouched! Yes, we are all stardust and inter-related, in essence I think within the Biblical concept of the brotherhood/sisterhood of all humanity – all creation really, under the Fatherhood of God! The second subscriber’s online quote is as follows, “The looming environmental disaster (the root meaning of the word disaster) is “ill-starred” … (focusing on) “a communion of subjects that are interconnected and interdependent for life.” Indeed, we do depend on animate and inanimate materiality all working together purposefully. Thus the wisdom of Pope Francis’ insights bring to light our responsibility in all ways, economically too, for the greening of the earth our Common Home, as Francis calls the cosmos, precisely Earth. The question may arise, “Why should this be?” Well, as someone once said, so “that no one should have nothing.” In other words, nations and individuals blessed with varying degrees of affluence must be willing to add a little water to the soup of human need, that is, sacrifice flavor for substance. It is in the tangibility of substance, not in the sensuous superficiality of flavor, in its own way also a gift from God, that sustenance resides. We are our brothers/sisters keepers! How can this be done? I think by amicably ending the ecological and economic assault on the poor and needy, by Corporate and individual Greed and Avarice of some. Inventing a word, by voluntary compassionate “ecolomics” allowing the ecologies and economics of our Common Home the cosmos, Sister Earth, to work together constructively, by deleting from the internetting of body and soul gross inequities and selfishness. This is not an easy task, but love makes all things easy and perfect love makes it a joy! Love is the way an ideal to strive towards. So, perhaps nothing else need be said. However, allow me to add in respectful emphasis my final thoughts, offered as an earlier post, hopefully beneficial to the overall picture of Pope Francis’ intent. “Praised Be” (“Laudato Si”) shows Pope Francis writes as a realistic mystic in touch with what is and with what is to come, one and the same, yet more, the fruit of prayer, study, and scientific contributions from some of the best. For some, however, Francis’ words are hard to swallow, their insights into what the pope says dwarfed by other interests, true, some legitimate It seems to me critics predetermined a disagreeable scent before the roses bloomed and holding their noses tight they are now unable to smell the flora. How enlightening once inhaled, ingested and assimilated, “Praised Be” truly is. Many have forgotten that Creator God is first and foremost a poet, every grain of sand a poem, every leaf a poem, all creation sings unfinished songs, creation an ongoing song, a poem being written, songs and poems of love because God is love growing, glowing, as lovers know love does. The language of lovers is poetry and song. Pope Francis knows this as did his name-sake St. Francis of Assisi, a man acknowledged by everyone as, “Everybody’s Saint!” In short,” Praised Be” tells us we must lovingly remove discordancy from creation, as creation sings its songs, writes its poems. We must protect creation its music, erasing the smudges of abuse that we have placed on God’s masterpiece, the green earth, the entire expanse of our cosmological home. What could be more true?

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“What we need to do is just continue to live out the challenge of ‘Laudato Si’,’ which is to examine our relationship with the earth, with God and with each other to see how we can become better stewards of this gift of the earth.”
Kevin ClarkeNovember 17, 2017
Hipsters love the authentic, the craft and the obscure—which is exactly why Catholicism, in its practices and its aesthetic, is perfectly suited for them.
Zac DavisNovember 17, 2017