Loiola XXI

Lugar de encuentro abierto a seguidor@s de S. Ignacio de Loyola esperando construir un mundo mejor


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La encíclica Laudato sì, en la FAO

“El diálogo, método y camino para la conversión ecológica”. Presentación de la Laudato Si’ en la FAO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(RV).- “Los desposeídos, los hambrientos, los que más sufren las inclemencias y desastres climáticos, son personas”, lo dijo Mons. Fernando Chica Arellano, Observador Permanente de la Santa Sede ante la Fao, durante la presentación de la Encíclica Laudato Si’ y los desafíos a la cooperación internacional, la tarde de este martes 27 de octubre, en la sede general de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Alimentación y la Agricultura.

En su discurso, el Observador de la Santa Sede resaltó que el diálogo es la metodología y el camino que la Encíclica del Papa Francisco traza para alcanzar la conversión ecológica y el cuidado de la casa común. Refiriéndose a la metodología, Mons. Chica Arellano señaló se debe tener en cuenta “la interpretación de las cuestiones de relevancia internacional que conciernen a la tutela del medio ambiente, los cambios climáticos, el trabajo agrícola, el uso de las nuevas tecnologías, el derecho al agua, la pérdida de la biodiversidad, el aumento de la población del planeta, así como la sostenibilidad de todo tipo de desarrollo”.

Para abordar estas significativas temáticas, dijo el Prelado, el paradigma que la Encíclica sigue es el de la ecología integral, es decir, una visión amplia que propone líneas de acción conjuntas para la promoción de la dignidad humana, la atención a los más depauperados, la lucha contra la pobreza y el cuidado del planeta. Por ello, es fundamental poner a la persona humana en el centro de toda iniciativa encaminada a la salvaguarda del planeta y al fomento de un desarrollo auténticamente sostenible, que se volverá así un desarrollo humano sostenible.

El método y el camino del diálogo que la Encíclica nos ofrece, afirmó el Representante de la Santa Sede, ha de ser auténtico, honrado y transparente, de este modo se transforma en el vehículo que favorece el bien común. En efecto, la búsqueda del bien común es lo que puede derrotar el egoísmo que permite que en el mundo siga habiendo un número tan elevado y escandaloso de personas que viven en condiciones inhumanas de pobreza, hambre y desprotección social. El medio ambiente es un bien colectivo. Nadie está exento de su cuidado. Los bienes de la tierra tienen un destino común: son para todos y colaborar en lo que a todos beneficia significa, por tanto, abandonar intereses mezquinos y sesgados.

“No es el hambre en abstracto lo que moverá los corazones y las voluntades para acabar con esta lacra que asola a la humanidad, precisó Mons. Chica Arellano, es necesario recordar que los desposeídos, los hambrientos, aquellos que más sufren las inclemencias y desastres climáticos, son personas”. Y por ello, el único camino a seguir es el del diálogo, diálogo al que se confía el compromiso de buscar medios, fondos financieros y caminos comunes para liberar a la familia humana de la angustia imperiosa que nace de la pobreza, el hambre, la degradación ambiental, construyendo para ello aquellos “puentes” necesarios para fortalecer y hacer eficaces las  distintas iniciativas y organizaciones.

Ciertamente, se precisan criterios de acción que aborden las diversas cuestiones de forma global e integral, señaló el Observador de la Santa Sede, sabiendo que la sostenibilidad es fruto de la solidaridad entre las generaciones, para que la tutela del medio ambiente se transforme en un servicio a todos los hombres y mujeres de hoy y también del mañana. En este sentido, es importante seguir la pedagogía de los pequeños gestos, esta lógica de los pequeños gestos, donde interactúan las políticas internacionales y las acciones cotidianas.


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Laudato sí, un documento antisistema? Comentario.

 Laudato si

Algunos aspectos de la “Laudato Si“, por Redes Cristianas.

imagesG1Q5FG4GSin lugar a dudas, la encíclica Laudato sí ha concitado de momento un consenso y adhesión pocas veces visto en anteriores documentos del Vaticano. Decimos de momento porque los responsables del caos medioambiental actual, perfectamente identificados en el documento, puede que no se den por enterados o intenten plantear dudas a la argumentación del Papa. En cualquier caso, bienvenida.

Dado que han pasado ya algunos días desde su publicación y los lectores de Redes pueden haberse hecho ya una idea del contenido, en este breve comentario quisiéramos poner el acento en otros aspectos, en concreto en el método escogido por el papa.

1. Parte de la perspectiva de los pobres. Esta opción de método tiñe y condiciona todo el contenido. No habla desde la situación acomodada del Norte o de los intereses de las corporaciones mercantiles o desde las estructuras del sistema o de la necesidad que los pobres acepten el sistema como mal menor. El punto de partida, repetido hasta la saciedad en todos los capítulos, es “escuchar tanto el clamor de la tierra como el de los pobres” (n.49). Así cuando habla de la contaminación (20), del calentamiento global (23 y 51), de los migrantes y refugiados ambientales (25), del acceso al agua (28), de la biodiversidad etc. etc.

Se trata de un punto de partida insólito en los documentos vaticanos. En todo discurso o investigación la epistemología escogida, como unas gafas, condiciona el color de lo que vemos, el contenido. También aquí.

2. Parte del diálogo con la ciencia y de la lectura de los hechos. No parte, como la mayoría de documentos vaticanos, del “depósito” de la fe, de otros “dogmas”, de la “revelación” o de la “tradición”, sino de lo contingente, del intercambio científico que se va construyendo y de la observación de la realidad. Son miles los institutos, centros de investigación y universidades que desde hace muchos años han trabajado en esto y el papa, simplemente, escucha sus resultados. Incluso en algunos párrafos hay algunas precisiones de carácter técnico insólitas en un documento vaticano que expresan que ha habido muchas manos en su redacción. Por otra parte en esto se pone de manifiesto el respeto del papa hacia la comunidad científica.

Pero definitivamente se trata también de una nueva manera de “construir” teología a la que el vaticano no nos tenía acostumbrados. Esto da a la encíclica un tono de voluntad de “caminar juntos” con toda la humanidad en la búsqueda de la felicidad humana que le confieren el carácter de verosimilitud y honradez que su publicación ha despertado.

3. Habiendo escogido la perspectiva de los pobres y esta manera de “construir” teología desde abajo, la consecuencia no podía ser otra que la condena sin paliativos -desde la ética y desde la fe- del sistema que fabrica pobres.

Hasta hace bien poco la Doctrina Social de la Iglesia, en general, suponía la aceptación o legitimación moral del capitalismo como sistema, a pesar de que había que corregir algunos excesos.

La “Laudato Sí”, al revés, condena la estructura y los valores que configuran el sistema. No sólo los excesos sino su misma esencia y los paradigmas culturales difundidos por la modernidad: la posibilidad y bondad del crecimiento indefinido, la posibilidad de convertirlo “todo” en mercancía o la “cosificación” incluso de las relaciones humanas, tanto laborales como afectivas, la tecnociencia como demiurgo capaz de resolverlo todo, el derroche o el usar y tirar como modo de vida, etc.

En definitiva, es el documento más “antisistema” producido por el vaticano.

 


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La encíclica del Papa y la UE.

uNION eUROPEA
Content:


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Encíclica: un cuestionario guía para la reflexión.

A readers’ guide to ‘Laudato Si”

  • A volunteer picks up trash at Freedom Island, a marshland considered to be a sanctuary for birds, fish and mangroves in April in the Philippines. (CNS/Reuters/Romeo Ranoco)
One of the many marvelous things about Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” is that it is written in a very accessible style. It does not read like an academic tome as did many encyclicals of the past. Anyone who can read a newspaper can read this encyclical and get something out of it.

True, it is 190 pages and about 40,000 words, but the six chapters flow nicely. It is not a hard read.

The encyclical is great for individual reading but even better for a book club, class, or discussion group. Reading and discussing the encyclical in a group is exactly what is called for because throughout the letter, there are calls to dialogue.

There is no need for people to wait while the bishops and pastors organize a response to the encyclical. Anyone can download the encyclical, call their friends and say, “Let’s read and discuss the encyclical.” Anyone part of a book club can recommend that the encyclical be their next read.

The impact of the encyclical is going to be significant even outside the Catholic church. Environmentalists and scientists have endorsed the document. Likewise, non-Catholic religious leaders are eager to discuss the encyclical, which will become a topic of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

So here is a readers’ guide with study questions to help in reading the encyclical. Because of the richness of the content, I would suggest taking one chapter at a time for reading and discussion. There are lots of questions. Use the ones you find helpful for discussion; don’t feel you have to answer them all.

Download the readers’ guide.

The introduction

The pope begins the encyclical by summarizing his presentation and citing earlier popes and other religious leaders who have spoken about the environment. He says Sister Earth “cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.”

Questions:

  1. Where have you seen harm inflicted on Sister Earth (Paragraph 2)?
  2. Why do you think few people knew that Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI spoke out on environmental issues (4-6)?
  3. St. Francis of Assisi has been called the patron saint of the environment. What is attractive about him (10-12)?
  4. Pope Francis concludes his introduction with an appeal (13-16). What is your response?

Chapter 1: What is happening to our common home

Pope Francis is a firm believer in the need to gather the facts in order to understand a problem. Chapter 1 presents the scientific consensus on climate change along with a description of other threats to the environment, including threats to water supplies and biodiversity. He also looks at how environmental degradation has affected human life and society. Finally, he writes about the global inequality of the environmental crisis.

Questions:

  1. How has pollution affected you or your family personally?
  2. What does the pope mean by a “throwaway culture” (22)? Do you agree with him? Why?
  3. What does the pope mean when he says, “The climate is a common good” (23)?
  4. What is the evidence that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity (23)? What will be its effects?
  5. The pope says “access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right,” yet many poor people do not have access to it (27-31). Why is this? What can be done?
  6. Why does the pope think biodiversity is important (32-42)? What are the threats to biodiversity?
  7. What are the effects on people’s lives of environmental deterioration, current models of development, and the throwaway culture (43-47)?
  8. Why does the pope believe “we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation” (48)?
  9. Why does the pope think that simply reducing birth rates of the poor is not a just or adequate response to the problem of poverty or environmental degradation (50)?
  10. “A true ‘ecological debt’ exists, particularly between the global north and south,” the pope writes (51). What does he mean?
  11. Why does the pope think the response to the world’s environmental crisis has been weak (53)?

Chapter 2: The Gospel of creation

The pope argues that faith convictions can motivate Christians to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of their brothers and sisters. He begins with the biblical account of creation and then meditates on the mystery of the universe, which he sees as a continuing revelation of the divine. “Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.” He concludes, “The earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone.”

Questions:

  1. According to Francis, the Bible teaches that the harmony between the creator, humanity, and creation was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations (66). What does it mean to presume to take the place of God?
  2. How does Francis interpret Genesis 1:28, which grants humankind dominion over the earth (67)?
  3. How does Francis use the Bible to support his view that the gift of the earth with its fruits belongs to everyone (71)?
  4. In reflecting on the mystery of the universe, what does Francis mean by saying that “creation is of the order of love” (77)?
  5. What is our role “in this universe, shaped by open and intercommunicating systems” where “we can discern countless forms of relationship and participation” (79)?
  6. Francis says, “Creating a world in need of development, God in some way sought to limit himself in such a way that many of the things we think of as evils, dangers or sources of suffering, are in reality part of the pains of childbirth which he uses to draw us into the act of cooperation with the Creator” (80). How do you understand this?
  7. If the ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us, how do we and other creatures fit into God’s plan (83)?
  8. Alongside revelation contained in Scripture, “there is a divine manifestation in the blaze of the sun and the fall of night” (85). How have you experienced God in creation?
  9. What is your reaction to the hymn of St. Francis of Assisi (87)?
  10. “The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to pri­vate property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of pri­vate property” (93). When can the right to private property be subordinated to the common good?
  11. What was the attitude of Jesus toward creation (96-100)?

Chapter 3: The human roots of the ecological crisis

Although science and technology “can produce important means of improving the quality of human life,” they have also “given those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world.” Francis says we are enthralled with a technocratic paradigm, which promises unlimited growth. But this paradigm “is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.” Those supporting this paradigm show “no interest in more balanced levels of production, a better distribution of wealth, concern for the environment and the rights of future generations. Their behaviour shows that for them maximizing profits is enough.”

Questions:

  1. What is Francis’ attitude toward technology? What does he mean by the technocratic paradigm (101, 106-114)?
  2. How does Francis argue that “technological products are not neutral,” (107, 114) that “the technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economic and political life” (109)?
  3. Francis says, “We are all too slow in developing economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resourc­es” (109). What does he mean? Why does this happen?
  4. Francis asserts that “by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion” (109). Why does he say this? Do you agree?
  5. Francis argues, “To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system” (111). What are the true and deepest problems of the global system in Francis’ mind?
  6. Francis calls for a broadened vision (112), “a bold cultural revolution” (114). What would that look like?
  7. What does Francis mean by “modern anthropocentrism” (115)?
  8. For Francis, “the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity” (119). What does Francis mean by “practical relativism” (122) and cultural relativism (123)?
  9. Why does Francis argue that any approach to integrated ecology must also protect employment (124)?
  10. What does Francis see as the positive and negative aspects of biological technologies (130-136)?

Chapter 4: Integral ecology

Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behavior, and the ways it grasps reality. We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis that is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.

Questions:

  1. Why does Francis argue that “we are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (139)?
  2. What would it mean to have “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature (139)”?
  3. Why does Francis think it is important for us to understand ecosystems and our relationship to them (140)?
  4. Why do “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” (141)?
  5. Francis speaks of an “integral ecology” that combines environmental (138-140), economic (141), social (142), and cultural (143) ecologies. What does that mean? How does it work?
  6. How does the environment of our homes, workplace, and neighborhoods affect our quality of life (147)?
  7. How does poverty, overcrowding, lack of open spaces, and poor housing affect the poor (149)? Why are these environmental issues?
  8. What does Francis mean by “the common good” (156)?
  9. What are the consequences of seeing the earth as a gift that we have freely received and must share with others and that also belongs to those who will follow us (159)?
  10. “What is the purpose of our life in this world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us” (160)?
  11. Why does Francis say, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain” (161)?
  12. What does Francis mean when he says, “An ethical and cultural decline … has accompanied the deterioration of the environment” (162)?

Chapter 5: Lines of approach and action

What is to be done? Francis calls for dialogue on environmental policy in the international, national and local communities. This dialogue must include transparent decision-making so that the politics serve human fulfillment and not just economic interests. It also involves dialogue between religions and science working together for the common good.

Questions:

  1. The word “dialogue” is repeated throughout this chapter. What does it mean and why does Francis think it is important?
  2. Francis speaks of the need for a global consensus for confronting problems. Why is it needed, and how is it going to be achieved (164)?
  3. Why does he think that “the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history” (165)?
  4. What does Francis see as the successes and failures of the global response to environmental issues (166-169)?
  5. What international strategies does Francis oppose in responding to the environmental crisis (170-171), and which does he support (172-172)?
  6. Francis argues, “The same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty” (175). What is this mindset?
  7. “Given the real potential for a misuse of human abilities,” Francis argues, “individual states can no longer ignore their responsibility for planning, coordination, oversight and enforcement within their respective borders” (177). What does that mean for the United States?
  8. “The Church does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics,” Francis says. “But I am concerned to encourage an honest and open debate so that particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good” (188). What is the proper role of the church in political, economic and environmental issues?
  9. Francis is critical of many business practices, has no faith in the marketplace to safeguard the environment, and sees a robust role for government in the regulation of the economy and protecting the environment. How will Americans respond to this? How do you?
  10. What does Francis mean when he says, “There is a need to change ‘models of global development’ ” (194)? What is wrong with the current models? What would the new models look like?
  11. What are the separate roles of religion and science, and how can they dialogue and work together (199-201)?

Chapter 6: Ecological education and spirituality

We need to change and develop new convictions, attitudes and forms of life, including a new lifestyle. This requires not only individual conversion, but also community networks to solve the complex situation facing our world today. Essential to this is a spirituality that can motivate us to a more passionate concern for the protection of our world. Christian spirituality proposes a growth and fulfillment marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world.

Questions:

  1. Throughout this encyclical, Francis links concern for the poor with the environment. Why does he do that?
  2. Francis is critical of a consumerist lifestyle (204). Why? What would a new lifestyle look like?
  3. What could be the political and economic impact of a widespread change in lifestyles (206)?
  4. What does Francis see as the role of environmental education in increasing awareness and changing habits (210-211)?
  5. What does Francis mean by an ecological spirituality, and how can it motivate us to a passionate concern for the protection of our world (216)?
  6. Self-improvement on the part of individuals will not by itself remedy the extremely complex situation we face today, according to Francis. What is the role for community networks? Governments?
  7. What are the attitudes that foster a spirit of generous care (220-221)?
  8. Granted all of the problems we face, what gives Francis joy and peace (222-227)?
  9. Love must also be civic and political, according to Francis. “Social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a ‘culture of care’ which permeates all of society.” How can we encourage civic and political love in the United States?
  10. Francis proposes that the natural world is integral to our sacramental and spiritual lives (233-242). How have you experienced this?
  11. How is this encyclical going to change your life?


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Encíclica: comentario de Cristianisme i Justicia.

Una encíclica para una conversión del corazón

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grupo de Sostenibilidad y Ética Cristiana de CJ. Hoy, después de mucha expectativa y algunas filtraciones, se ha publicado la encíclica Laudato Si’ del Papa Francisco. Un texto del Papa Francisco de nuevo valiente y vigoroso, que habla con mucha claridad, y que es una magnífica noticia para las personas preocupadas por las cuestiones medioambientales y ecológicas.

No es una sorpresa que el Papa Francisco publique su primera encíclica propia -la anterior, Lumen Fidei, de hecho estaba redactada casi toda por Benedicto XVI durante su renúncia- sobre este tema. En efecto, la primera homilía que hizo el Papa Francisco, el día de san José, hablaba claramente sobre nuestro deber de ser custodios unos de otros, y custodios de la creación. Y el mismo nombre de Francisco recoge esa sensibilidad por la comunión con la naturaleza y el resto de seres que tenía el santo de Asís…

Qué decir del contenido de la Encíclica?

A falta de una lectura más pausada, que tendremos que hacer todos y que compartiremos, señalamos aquí algunos de los principales puntos.

El primero es que el mismo texto quiere hacer notar que esta preocupación por la degradación de la naturaleza que provocamos los humanos no es nueva. Y por eso recuerda y cita escritos de los Papas Juan XXIII o Pablo VI cuando dice que “debido a una explotación desconsiderada de la naturaleza, el ser humano sufre el riesgo de destruirla y de ser a la vez víctima de esta degradación”; también cita Juan Pablo II cuando hace una llamada a la “conversión ecológica global”, y, finalmente, a Benedicto XVI cuando critica “los modelos de crecimiento que parecen incapaces de garantizar el respeto del medio ambiente”. También entronca con la tradición, evidentemente, del Poverello de Asís, y de cristianos actuales, como tantos científicos activos en este tema, o cristianos de otras Iglesias y comunidades, como el Patriarca Bartolomé, que recuerda que “las raíces éticas y espirituales de los problemas medioambientales nos invitan a encontrar soluciones no sólo en la técnica, sino en un cambio del ser humano”.

El segundo punto que podemos destacar, así, es que el Papa Francisco recuerda, por activa y por pasiva, larelación entre los problemas sociales y ecológicos. Ambos tienen, afirma rotundamente, un mismo origen: nuestra separación del mundo, nuestra avidez, la fuerza de los poderes económicos y financieros que buscan los resultados inmediatos…

El tercer punto que llama la atención por su fuerza en esta Encíclica es la crítica al paradigma tecnocrático y la visión parcial del ser humano. Así, lo que llama “el mito del progreso”, considera que “los problemas ecológicos se resolverán simplemente con nuevas aplicaciones técnicas, sin consideraciones éticas ni cambios de fondo”. También cuestiona el papel del “poder conectado con las finanzas”, que es, dice, “lo que más se resiste a este esfuerzo”, y el papel de la política, que es poco decidido cuando no tiene amplitud de miras. Sobre la visión parcial del ser humano, dice también que es un problema porque “impide encontrar caminos adecuados para resolver los problemas más complejos del mundo actual, sobre todo del ambiente y de los pobres, que no se pueden abordar desde una sola mirada o desde un solo tipo de intereses”.

Y el cuarto punto es que, para salir del actual atolladero e inmovilismo político tan grande sobre la cuestión ecológica, hay que plantear un “itinerario ético y espiritual” para cambiar nuestra manera de ver el mundo, nuestras relaciones, los demás , y las otras criaturas. Podemos decir que esta encíclica busca, sobre todo, esta “conversión ecológica” de la que ya Juan Pablo II hablaba. El Papa Francisco lo expresa diciendo que “todo cambio necesita motivaciones y un camino educativo” y por ello propone en esta Encíclica “algunas líneas de maduración humana inspiradas en el tesoro de la experiencia espiritual cristiana”.

La estructura de la Encíclica

La estructura de la Encíclica muestra el camino que quiere ayudarnos a hacer el Papa en este proceso de ‘conversión ecológica’.

En efecto, el primer capítulo explica, de acuerdo con el conocimiento científico actual, la situación de nuestro mundo hoy, y se titula “lo que está pasando en nuestra casa”. No se limita, evidentemente, a recoger algunos datos medioambientales, sino a las causas profundas de la actual situación de insostenibilidad ecológica.

Después plantea, en el segundo capítulo, una lectura creyente, a partir de los textos bíblicos y de la tradición espiritual cristiana, de nuestra relación con la Creación. Como dice al principio, aunque la Encíclica está pensada “para todos los hombres y mujeres de buena voluntad”, apuesta por plantear la perspectiva creyente porque “las soluciones no pueden llegar desde una única manera de interpretar y transformar la realidad “(la tecno-económica). Por eso, dice, hay que “recoger las diversas riquezas culturales de los pueblos, el arte, la poesía, la vida interior y la espiritualidad”.

El tercer capítulo, titulado “las raíces humanas de la crisis ecológica”, plantea la cuestión de cómo el desarrollo que no es integral, y que no contempla nuestra relación armoniosa con la naturaleza, nos lleva a una grave crisis ecológica que es reflejo de una fuerte crisis de valores.

Los capítulos cuarto y quinto plantean lo que debe entenderse por ‘ecología integral’, concepto que tendremos que desarrollar más en otra ocasión, y las líneas de aproximación para una acción que asegure las políticas e iniciativas favorables a un “desarrollo integral genuino”.

El último capítulo nos plantea una línea de trabajo para la educación y la espiritualidad más conscientes de la importancia de la ecología para nuestra vida y nuestra fe.

Nos encontramos, pues, ante una Encíclica que tendremos que ir analizando con más calma los próximos días, que tiene el tono valiente y claro del Papa Francisco, y que quiere ayudar a que todos, creyentes y no creyentes, pero especialmente los lectores católicos, tomemos conciencia de que la cuestión ecológica no es sólo estética o ‘romántica’, sino un elemento central en nuestra fe y en nuestra manera de vivir las relaciones con los demás, especialmente con los más pobres y vulnerables, y con Dios.


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Por qué el éxito de la encíclica?

Faobis

Why Pope Francis’ encyclical matters

Some of the most frequently asked questions I have gotten from journalists this week: Why does the encyclical matter? What impact will it have? Why is it getting all this attention?

Let’s start with the last question: Why is it getting all this attention?

The encyclical, “Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home,” is getting lots of attention for two reasons.

First, there is a growing consensus around the world that we need to take better care of the environment. Scientific consensus exists that climate change is happening, and human activity is causing it. People are growing in their awareness of environmental problems, but they also see that so far, the world has done little to respond to the crisis.

The second reason the encyclical is getting so much attention is because it is from Pope Francis. The pope is admired, respected, and even loved all over the world by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Everyone is fascinated by this pope, and he has an ability to communicate in simple language that average people can understand.

It is true that previous popes spoke or wrote about the environment and global warming, but their message rarely got through to the public for two reasons.

First, the media were much more interested in writing stories about popes and condoms than stories about popes and the environment.

Second, in the last two papacies, papal statements tended to read like academic dissertations. The church has never been very good at communicating Catholic social teaching, whether it has been on justice, peace or the environment.

Francis, on the other hand, writes more like a journalist than an academic. Anyone who can read a newspaper can read this encyclical and get something out of it.

In other words, the encyclical is getting so much media attention because it is on the right topic, at the right time, by the right person.

Why does the encyclical matter?

The encyclical matters because it is an authoritative message by one of the world’s great religious leaders. The encyclical will stimulate homilies and discussions in parishes around the world. It will become a source of inspiration and ideas for activists, preachers, teachers, theologians and authors who will echo and develop the pope’s message.

In his encyclical, the pope begins with looking at the facts: What have we been doing to the earth? He then argues that how we treat the earth, how we respond to climate change, are moral questions — in fact, some of the most important moral issues of our time.

Those who argue that the pope should stick to faith and morals and not political issues don’t seem to think there are any Catholic moral issues outside the bedroom. What can be a more important moral issue than one that could cause the death and displacement of millions of people?

The encyclical is also an invitation to dialogue. The pope does not claim to have all the answers. The more specific his policy recommendations, the less authoritative he becomes. He is inviting economists, business people, public officials, environmentalists, inventors and religious leaders to all come together for a conversation on how to protect the environment. Anyone with a good idea is welcome.

The encyclical also matters because it puts the Catholic church firmly behind the environmental movement. With the pope’s embrace, the environmental movement goes mainstream. They can no longer be denigrated as tree-huggers and Gia worshippers.

Despite its efforts, the environmental movement has had only limited success. Frankly, people are not going to change their lifestyles to protect polar bears. But if history shows us anything, it is that religion can motivate people to do extraordinary things. Religious motives can move people to self-sacrifice, to give up their own self-interest for a greater good. The environmental movement needs believers of every faith who are motivated by their religious convictions to protect God’s creation.

What impact will the encyclical have?

The pope is calling the world to a conversion that will have a huge impact on how we live, how our economy works, and how governments operate. “Revolutionary” is almost too weak a word. It will require an extraordinary change in human vision and behavior to accomplish this peaceful revolution. It will require sacrifice from everyone, especially those who are rich and powerful, who are enjoying the fruits of the status quo.

Doing what the pope asks will not be easy, but the pope encourages us to trust in a loving God and a powerful Spirit that can renew the face of the earth. His encyclical is remarkable in that it does not depend primarily on fear to motivate people to care for the earth. Rather, he emphasizes love as the motivating force.

We cannot expect the encyclical to miraculously change human attitudes and behavior overnight. Rather, the encyclical is the beginning of a process that will go on for years. It requires that each of us get involved for the long haul. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

As a social scientist, I am very pessimistic that we can avoid an environmental catastrophe, but as a Christian, I have to have hope. Francis’ encyclical strengthens that hope.

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]