The new encyclical, Laudato Si’, provides a ray of hope for environmentalists, because it may assist in motivating Christians to greater environmental concern. The current pope is popular and respected, and has the ability to sway the thinking of many; let us hope he succeeds.
In reading the encyclical, however, one encounters the expected party line, particularly regarding population control. He does point out a few uncomfortable truths, though, which are welcome. He deplores the increasing specialization of technology that prevents people from taking an holistic view, and calls for a new cultural paradigm where technology is not the supreme value. In paragraph 192 he even presents a few good suggestions for moving forward. He also exhorts us to look at the larger picture, but sadly, this is beyond most people’s ability.
Perhaps for Wiccans, the best part is the Prayer for the Earth at the end, which is lovely, and can be included in rituals without causing any qualm of conscience or needing to be changed.
Much of the encyclical is spent addressing particularly Christian concerns, as to be expected, but in doing this, he uses a great deal of the space to discuss exclusively human social concerns, and promote the value of human life. Indeed, he uses that as the starting point of his argument. Although he did deplore the corporate depredations of the environment and society, it seemed from my reading that he emphasized the importance of a lifestyle change for individuals, rather than the importance of corporate responsibility, which is a sad lack. Often it is the system set up by corporate interests that dictate how the poor live and the choices they make. It is difficult to change one’s lifestyle when there is nothing better to change to.
He let one opportunity slip through his hands when he attempted to promote a science and religion dialog, but when he correctly pointed out that science does not have all the answers, he did not elucidate what it is religion offers.
As with most human endeavors, this encyclical is a mixture of grace and misfortune. Although it is insufficient, it is a step in the right direction for the Church, and one that I, at least, never expected it to make, and I rejoice, because it could motivate some to do the right thing. One small step for the Church, uncounted steps yet to go for humanity.
Copyright © 2015 Teresa Chupp. All rights reserved.