Laudato Si - A Call for Sacrifice, Generosity and Sharing

Laudato Si - A Call for Sacrifice, Generosity and Sharing

I have been occupied with other duties of late and have not had the opportunity to write in my blog.  So today I want to continue our discussion of the recent encyclical Laudato Si by Pope Francis.  Below I have reprinted the next three paragraphs:


United by the same concern


These statements of the Popes echo the reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers, theologians and civic groups, all of which have enriched the Church’s thinking on these questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. To give just one striking example, I would mention the statements made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion.


Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”, we are called to acknowledge “our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation”.[14] He has repeatedly stated this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to acknowledge our sins against creation: “For human beings… to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins”.[15] For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God”.[16]


At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of environmental problems, which require that we look for solutions not only in technology but in a change of humanity; otherwise we would be dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion”. [17] As Christians, we are also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of communion, as a way of sharing with God and our neighbors on a global scale. It is our humble conviction that the divine and the human meet in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our planet”. [18]


When the discussion turns to sin, most people will speak of “giving in to our weaknesses” as the root of sin.  However, careful examination of the situation shows that we usually sin by abusing our strengths.  Sins of pride happen when we fail to acknowledge that God is the source of our assets.  Sins of lust happen when we abuse our sexuality through promiscuity.  Sins against charity happen when we fail to recognize the need of others because we are so focused on ourselves. 


Pope Francis uses the words of Patriarch Bartholomew to illustrate how sins against our environment come out of our need to dominate the created world rather than to cultivate it as co-creators with God.  This planet is our common home.  We sin against others, especially the poor, when we appropriate more than our fair share of the gifts of creation. 


Citing the common notions of sacrifice, generosity, and sharing, all of them a vital part of our Christian faith, the Holy Father and Patriarch Bartholomew ask us to repent of these sins by living in communion with nature and all other people in the world.  Repentance or conversion always involves change.  What do I need to change in my life to protect our common home?


Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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«February 2020»