The long-anticipated environmental encyclical from Pope Francis makes for wonderful and confronting reading, challenging contemporary society to change the way it approaches human life on the planet.
It should be said at the outset that the encyclical is not just about the environment. Francis is at pains, repeating it several times throughout the document, to point out that everything is connected, that caring for the planet also means caring for our brothers and sisters, and for ourselves. This wonderful addition to the Church’s social teaching also marks a significant development in the life of papal encyclicals drawing, as it does, on the teachings of various bishops’ conferences from around the world.
There will be those who reject the contents of this encyclical because they believe it challenges their fundamental ideology. Others may reject it because it dares to question their ability to pursue their own financial security without regard to the plight of others who share this planet. There will be others who do so because they seek to resist the urgent call to change contained in the encyclical. It will be a shame if that happens because a chance will be missed to see the need to care for the planet on which we all live as something more than just a condemnation of the status quo.
Here we find an impassioned plea for something to be done in order that the planet Earth might continue to be the place with humanity, created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore endowed with inalienable dignity, is able to flourish in a sustainable way that honours their unique place within the great web of relationships that spread across the face of the earth.
Highly recommended for study, reflection, and prayer.