Pope Francis gives his thumb up as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's square
Pope Francis gives his thumb up as he leaves at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s square

I still had reservations about Pope Francis, until I read his encyclical Laudato Si’, since when I reckon this bloke’s the real thing.

Whilst I recommend sitting down and reading the whole encyclical–a magnificently intelligent piece–here are what I reckon are several highlights:  We’re bombarded with “… tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality …”  This needs to be changed “ as to hear…” “…the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”

Currently “…priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the material environment.”

“…. once certain resources have been depleted, the scene will be set for new wars, albeit under the guise of noble claims.”

Reminding us of Leviticus 25:23: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity … ” he says:  “St John Paul II forcefully reaffirmed this teaching, stating that ‘God gave the earth to the whole human race, without excluding or favouring anyone’.”

We’ve suffered “misguided anthropocentrism” and “…expansion of oligopolies for the production of cereals and other products needed for their cultivation.”

However, it is “…troubling that, when some of the ecological movement defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life.”

Under his heading “Integral Ecology”, the relationship between nature and society, Francis has this to say: “We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision.”

“An integral ecology is inseparable from the notion of the common good, a central and unifying principal of social ethics.”

“The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny …”

“Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain.”

“The strategy of buying and selling ‘carbon credits’ can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide. This system seems to provide a quicker and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment …”

“The myopia of power politics delays the inclusion of a far-sighted environmental agenda within the overall agenda of governments.”

“… the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics.  But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate …”

“Today, in view of the common good, there is an urgent need for politics and economics to enter into frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price ….. only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system ….”

Laudato Si’ covers much ground elegantly and is soundly argued.

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