This week we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis to the Church and to the World.
The Holy Spirit sent to the Church by Jesus continues to teach us and open our minds and hearts to understand more deeply what Jesus proclaimed, and what God continues to call us to.
There is an ongoing deepening and understanding of the mysteries of our faith.
From time to time there is a major development in this ongoing understanding.
An example of this deepening is the Encyclical ‘Rerum Nouarum’ written by Pope Leo X111 on the 15th May, 1891. It addressed the condition of the working classes at the time of the Industrial Revolution.
This Encyclical was a major contribution to Catholic Social Teachings, and continued to be further developed by further Encyclicals such as ‘Quadragesimo Anno’ by Pope Pius the Eleventh on 15 May, 1931.
A heightened awareness of the challenges facing our planet caused Pope Paul V1 in 1971 to speak strongly about the ‘ill-considered exploration of nature’ and the consequences of this.
St. Pope John Paul 11 called for a global ecological conversion. Pope Benedict the sixteenth called all to recognise that the natural environment has been greatly damaged by our irresponsible behaviour.
The title ‘Laudato Si’ is in the dialect spoken by St. Francis of Assis, meaning ‘praise be to you my Lord’ ….. ‘through our sister, mother earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.
For us Christians, concern about the environment is not an optional extra. Pope Francis points to St. Francis of Assisi as the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable, and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is a prime example of how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, and commitment to society and interior peace.
St. Francis was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in a wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He called all creatures ’brother’ and ‘sister’.
This is in sharp contrast with having an attitude of master, consumers, ruthless exploiters unable to set limits on immediate needs in our connection with the world all that lives within it.
St. Francis taught us to refuse to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.
Pope Francis reminds us that the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise. He also reminds us that while the degradation of the environment affects all of us, it affects most especially the world’s poorest.
At the start of this Encyclical the Pope calls for humanity to come together about shaping the future of our plant. Everything is connected, technology, the economy, the value of each creature, the need for honest debate, international and local policy, the throw away culture, etc.
In view of the importance of this topic for us Christians, but also for all of humanity, we will be reflecting during the week of the anniversary on ‘Laudato Si’ and its implications for human and Christian living. It involves all of us!
God Bless you today.
Bishop of Darwin