This is the second in a series of articles where Adrian Statham summarizes Pope Francis’ papal encyclical Laudato Si’
Note: numbers in brackets refer to the paragraph numbers of the papal encyclical “Laudato Si”
Chapter Two: The Gospel of Creation
The ecological crisis has multiple causes and will have multiple solutions. The book of Genesis says that we are grounded in three intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbours and with the earth itself and that these have all been broken outwardly and within us by sin. Today “sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.” (66) Our dominion over the earth is to “till and keep it.” “The earth is the Lord’s” (Psalm 24:1). We can take from the earth for our subsistence (“till”) but need to protect its fruitfulness for future generations (“keep it”). God created and values all creatures on earth, not just mankind. (69) “Genuine care for our lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and faithfulness to others.” (70) Having created the universe, nothing is too hard for God. “The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world.” (75)
“A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing and limiting our power.” (78) God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things; nature is not merely a source of profit or gain. Perhaps God is setting us the challenge, by allowing us to create poverty and environmental crisis, of overcoming these problems. (80)
We are part of a universal communion or family, “linked by unseen bonds.” (89) “We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions…” (90) We must be concerned with nature and with our fellow human beings. People, whether rich or poor, have equal dignity, for “the Lord is the maker of them all.” (Proverbs 22:2) “The natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone.” (95)
In the Christian understanding of the world, the destiny of all creation is bound up with the mystery of Christ, present from the beginning: “All things have been created though him and for him” (Col 1:16).” Jesus was part of God made man, lived in harmony with nature, worked as a carpenter and will, at the end of time, deliver all things to the Father so that “God may be everything to everyone.”
Go to the Chapter 3 summary or back to the Chapter 1 summary.
The full Laudato Si’ Encyclical is available here.