Friday, October 2, 2015

"No branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out": Laudato Si', 60-64

In the excerpts that follow, Francis wraps up the survey of the current situation (Chapter I) by considering the options open to us. He then turns to a theological interpretation of the natural world (Chapter II). On Monday we'll jump into Francis's exposition of the Biblical understanding of the natural world. Enjoy!


60. We need to acknowledge that different approaches and lines of thought have emerged regarding this situation and its possible solutions. At one extreme, we find those who doggedly uphold the myth of progress and tell us that ecological problems will solve themselves simply with the application of new technology and without any need for ethical considerations or deep change. At the other extreme are those who view men and women and all their interventions as no more than a threat, jeopardizing the global ecosystem, and consequently the presence of human beings on the planet should be reduced and all forms of intervention prohibited. Viable future scenarios will have to be generated between these extremes….

61. On many concrete questions, the Church has no reason to offer a definitive opinion; she knows that honest debate must be encouraged among experts, while respecting divergent views. But we need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair…. “If we scan the regions of our planet, we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God’s expectations”.[35]


62. Why should this document, addressed to all people of good will, include a chapter dealing with the convictions of believers? I am well aware that in the areas of politics and philosophy there are those who firmly reject the idea of a Creator, or consider it irrelevant, and consequently dismiss as irrational the rich contribution which religions can make towards an integral ecology and the full development of humanity. Others view religions simply as a subculture to be tolerated. Nonetheless, science and religion, with their distinctive approaches to understanding reality, can enter into an intense dialogue fruitful for both.


63. Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality…. No branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes religion and the language particular to it….

64. Furthermore, although this Encyclical welcomes dialogue with everyone so that together we can seek paths of liberation, I would like from the outset to show how faith convictions can offer Christians, and some other believers as well, ample motivation to care for nature and for the most vulnerable of their brothers and sisters. If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn “realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith”.[36]…


[35] John Paul II, Catechesis (17 January 2001), 3.

[36] Ibid., Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 15.

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