December 14. Pope Francis and Sister Mother Earth. In Laudato si’ in taking up the issues of climate change, and environmental matters he follows in the footsteps of St Francis. Very recently in his Fratelli Tutti he addresses the human side more specifically on fraternity and social friendship between all people and all religions. He acknowledges and pays tribute to St Francis. In the chapter on “The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis” from Laudato Si’ 101 he notes and discusses how much has changed especially in the last 200 years and how it continues to change at an ever increasing pace. To mention just a few; from steam engines, electricity, automobiles, aeroplanes, chemical industries, modern medicine to the digital revolution there is much to admire and over which to rejoice. “Yet there is a tendency for society to believe that every increase in power means an increase of progress itself, an advance in security, usefulness, welfare and vigour, as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such. The fact is that contemporary man has not been trained to use power well. Our technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.” LS105.
There is strong criticism and focus on the negative aspects of so-called development and the harm inflicted on Mother Earth but along with St Francis there is also the message of God’s presence in all of creation, the need for ecological conversion, education and for spirituality. It could be said that climate change as an environmental crisis – and for us in this year 2020 faced with the COVID-19 pandemic also a human and social disaster – is an extraordinary opportunity for conversion, for repentance and to grow in relationships with God, with the family of families in nature and in all of humanity, especially with those who are suffering.
Laudato Si’ 84 states, “each creature has its own purpose. The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains, everything is a caress of God.” In Fratelli Tutti 8 he invites, “It is my desire that, in this our time, by acknowledging the dignity of each human person, we can contribute to the rebirth of a universal aspiration to fraternity, between all men and women. Here we have a splendid secret that shows us how to dream and to turn our life into a wonderful adventure. No one can face life in isolation. How important it is to dream together. Let us dream, then, as a single human family, as fellow travelers sharing the same flesh, as children of the same earth which is our common home, each of us bringing the richness of his or her beliefs and convictions, each of us with his or her own voice, brothers and sisters all.“ If St Francis were alive in 2020 he would no doubt agree 100%.
For reflection and sharing: As family members, research, read up and share more from these encyclicals of Pope Francis. What action can be taken personally or communally?