This is the third 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 Three: The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
“Technology has remedied countless evils which used to harm and limit human beings.” (102) But “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.” (105)
The earth’s resources are not infinite. “Technological products” often end up conditioning lifestyles in ways favoured by certain powerful groups. “The economy accepts every advance in technology with a view to profit, without concern for its potentially negative impact on human beings. Finance overwhelms the real economy. The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration.” (109) People no longer believe that we are moving to a happier future through technology. We need “a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.” (111) We need to recover past values and goals, “to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made…” (114)
Anthropocentrism (man as centre of the universe)
“If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships.” (119) Humans must not place themselves at the centre of things and organise everything for their convenience. Pope Francis dislikes unrestricted market forces being allowed to control the economy and “the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our immediate desires and immediate needs” which can lead to things like abortion of female babies and the abandonment of the elderly. He also dislikes the “use and throw away culture” which leads to the “desire to consume more than what is really necessary.” (123) “When the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.” (123)
We should encourage small farms and steady employment for everyone and try not to replace people with machines. It is difficult to make a general decision on genetic modification (GM) in plants or animals, but GM crops tend to lead to land being concentrated into the hands of large producers. We should not experiment on human embryos.
The full Laudato Si’ Encyclical is available here.