Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis : On Care for Our Common Home

Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis : On Care for Our Common Home Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis : On Care for Our Common Home by Pope Francis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I understand that the Church (and especially Pope Francis, taking his name from St. Francis) has to make a formal statement about the Church's social doctrine and this is the optimum time to say something about the pastoral care of our planet and its varied cultures and denizens, but I question the efficacy of disseminating this message in an encyclical.

First of all, Laudato Si' could use an edit. It is at least twice as long as it needs to be. I found it repetitive and tedious.

Also, the Pope's message is intended for everyone, yes, but he mostly addresses the issues of two social groups: the disenfranchised poor and the consumer/capitalist-oriented rich; the haves and the have-nots; first-world and third-world peoples. The main problem is that these two groups have different lived experiences and so speak different languages. For example: what do people in North America know about digging through mountains of garbage to find the day's food? What do third world people know about shopping at Wal-Mart and being faced with the "choice" of thirty different chewing gums?

I fear that each group will only be able to relate to their own situation and, as the Pope warns, the poor (who have no political clout) will continue to suffer for the rich's selfish consumerism.

The text had barely been released and critics (American media) were already criticizing the encyclical's communist-leaning themes. So much for the worldwide collaborative effort to eliminate the problem at the geo-political level.

The Church does not need yet another document outlining its social doctrine, or bemoaning the destructiveness of miss-used technology. The track record speaks for itself, especially in Gaudium et Spes - the Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World.

Sadly, as far as the issue of the Earth's care is concerned, no dire words of warning issued from the Vatican (a moral voice that even many misinformed Catholics are ignoring more and more these days) will create the necessary economic or social revolution.

Consumers will simply not delay instant gratification for a 'possible' environmental change to be enjoyed by a 'possible' future generation.

Pope Francis, and all idealists, welcome to the future: it is now.

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