Monday, October 12, 2015

"All of us are linked by unseen bonds": Laudato Si', 89-95

In the excerpts that follow, Francis covers two topics: (a) the universal communion that exists (or should exist) among all creatures, including both men and the entire natural world; and (b) the Catholic understanding of private property, which must always be a form of stewardship oriented to the universal common good. Enjoy!


89. The created things of this world are not free of ownership: "For they are yours, O Lord..." (Wis 11:26). This is the basis of our conviction that, as part of the universe, called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect....

90. This is not to put all living beings on the same level nor to deprive human beings of their unique worth and the tremendous responsibility it entails. Nor does it imply a divinization of the earth which would prevent us from working on it and protecting it in its fragility.... At times we see an obsession with denying any pre-eminence to the human person; more zeal is shown in protecting other species than in defending the dignity which all human beings share in equal measure. Certainly, we should be concerned lest other living beings be treated irresponsibly. But we should be particularly indignant at the enormous inequalities in our midst.... We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, would destroy the planet. In practice, we continue to tolerate that some consider themselves more human than others, as if they had been born with greater rights.

91. A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted....

92. Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one. It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we mete out to other human beings. We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness which leads us to mistreat an animal will not be long in showing itself in our relationships with other people....


93. Whether believers or not, we are agreed today that the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone. For believers, this becomes a question of fidelity to the Creator, since God created the world for everyone.... The principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use, is a golden rule of social conduct and "the first principle of the whole ethical and social order".[71] 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. Saint John Paul II forcefully reaffirmed this teaching, stating that "God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone".[72] These are strong words. He noted that "a type of development which did not respect and promote human rights - personal and social, economic and political, including the rights of nations and of peoples - would not be really worthy of man".[73]...

94. The rich and the poor have equal dignity, for "the Lord is the maker of them all" (Prov 22:2).... This has practical consequences, such as those pointed out by the bishops of Paraguay: "Every campesino has a natural right to possess a reasonable allotment of land where he can establish his home, work for subsistence of his family and a secure life. This right must be guaranteed so that its exercise is not illusory but real. That means that apart from the ownership of property, rural people must have access to means of technical education, credit, insurance, and markets".[77]

95. ...If we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all. If we do not, we burden our consciences with the weight of having denied the existence of others. That is why the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment "Thou shall not kill" means when "twenty percent of the world's population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive".[78]


[71] JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens (14 September 1981), 19.

[72] Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus (1 May 1991), 31.

[73] Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (30 December 1987), 33.

[77] PARAGUAYAN BISHOPS' CONFERENCE, Pastoral Letter El campesino paraguayo y la tierra (12 June 1983), 2, 4, d.

[78] NEW ZEALAND CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE, Statement on Environmental Issues (1 September 2006).

No comments:

Post a Comment