From Bishop Paul Tighe, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Pope Francis in the face of a grave crisis says we lack the culture to address the global environmental crisis. We need an new ecological conversion. But, solutions will not be emerged from just one way of transforming the reality. Christians are faced with a crisis both socially and ecologically. Christians need to reconsider the architecture of our lives. Christians need to redefine our notions of happiness to get beyond our notion of happiness. Art, writing and music are ways of building up a new culture of care for each other and the environment.
Laudatio Si is a document written by the Pope not just for the Catholics but for the entire human community. This is shaped by the Judeo-Christian ethics. Laudatio Si is like when you go to the doctor, the doctor looks at the symptoms, the causes and then finally gives a diagnosis and solution.
Pope Francis highlights key issues or symptoms including water quality, the loss of biodiversity, and particularly interested in the impact of the poor.
What are the causes? Consumerism and a consumerism that does not have any limits. This is not just individual needs but companies. Individuals and nations thinking only of strategic interests. This is a failure to see the earth as our home. The earth is not just to be consumed.
In the Judeo-Christian view humans have been given this world as stewards. The role humans play is not just as a blind mastery but to take care. Humans are called to care for this world. From a non-scientific view, humans need to see the world as sacred and something to be valued.
Like any doctor, Pope Francis has said we have been wilfully blind to the issues humans are confronting. It is too easy to be distracted. Consumerism is not damaging the earth, but destroying human beings and our lifestyle. Consumerism is fracturing our relationship in each other as human beings.
What do we need?
Pope Francis has suggested humans need the contribution of sciences, the contribution of economists, the contribution of politicians, finally, we need the contribution of each and every section of society. We need to recognise the needs of our broader community and not just of our selves.
The key word in Laudatio Si is “Dialogue”. The Pope sees a need for a need a conversation with each other. It is our destiny as humans to be brothers and sisters of each other. We were made for community. If we do not recognise this need, we will never confront the environmental problems.
Finally, Pope Francis asks us to revisit our lifestyles. Pope Francis calls humans to live a simpler lifestyle. To live with less.
Consumerism is destroying us as individuals. Jason Hickel (economic anthropologist and author) says “People need to be ready for sacrifice”. The Western world need to be ready for sacrifice. People need to have an ecological conversion. Humans need to live their lives reflecting more intentionally and reflect on how our choices impact other people. Humans need to try and live that with hope. We need a better sustainable way of living which is attractive.
Pope Francis calls humans to appreciate beauty. If we do not appreciate beauty we will appreciate nothing. How do we give people an understanding of beauty? Beauty not focused on utility or what we can produce. Beauty which is gratuitous and gracious. Beauty which is given to us.
Pope Francis calls us to a spirituality of simplicity. Simplicity which looks at what is most important in the needs of others. This spirituality sees creation as something good. That practises a sense of thankfulness and grows in an appreciation that the earth is a gift to humanity.
Pope Francis continually draws on Saint Francis. Saint Francis who had a mystical understanding of creation. Creation is the place where we can find God and see God in the goodness of his creation.