Pope Francis has gained a bit of a reputation for saying surprising things. His newest encyclical Laudato Si’: On the Care For the Common Home, doesn’t pull any punches. It’s packed full of Catholic tradition and insight and is, well, downright challenging! The encyclical should serve as a wake-up call. Here are 26 Times Pope Francis Tells It Like It Is in Laudato Si’.
“We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good.” (229)
2. You’re so vain, I bet you thought this encyclical was about you
“A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God…” (75)
3. This immanence is stifling
“Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.” (119)
4. I’m in a glass, cement, asphalt, and metal cage of emotion!
“We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.” (43)
5. Who put all this filth here?
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (21)
6. Beauty: Irreplaceable
“We seem to think that we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.” (34)
7. He just said what we’ve all been thinking about “modern” art
“If architecture reflects the spirit of an age, our megastructures and drab apartment blocks express the spirit of globalized technology, where a constant flood of new products coexists with a tedious monotony. Let us refuse to resign ourselves to this, and continue to wonder about the purpose and meaning of everything. Otherwise we would simply legitimate the present situation and need new forms of escapism to help us endure the emptiness.” (113)
8. There’s a difference
“It is not a healthy attitude which would seek ‘to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it.’” (155)
9. So…then you’re not going to accept my friend request?
“Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.” (47)
10. Be consistent
“[I]t is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life.” (136)
11. Ahem…Richard Dawkins…
“It cannot be maintained that empirical science provides a complete explanation of life, the interplay of all creatures and the whole of reality.” (199)
“It is remarkable how weak international political responses have been. The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance.” (54)
13. Superficial, sporadic, perfunctory, romantic…we got called out
“…the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions” (54)
14. Understatement of the year
“Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending.” (203)
15. Everyone’s thinkin’ it, he’s just sayin’ it
“Often, politics itself is responsible for the disrepute in which it is held, on account of corruption and the failure to enact sound public policies.” (197)
16. Hey Planned Barrenhood…are you listening?
“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” (120)
17. Refusing to see
“To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” (50)
18. I hope he doesn’t look in my compost bin
“Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and ‘whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor’”. (50)
19. Let it go…Let it go…
“Powerful financial interests prove most resistant to this effort, and political planning tends to lack breadth of vision. What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” (57)
20. Be “awe-some”
“If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs.” (11)
21. That’s radical
“The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.” (11)
22. Why does my heart feel so bad?
“The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume.” (204)
23. Relativism is not humility
“It is not easy to promote this kind of healthy humility or happy sobriety when we consider ourselves autonomous, when we exclude God from our lives or replace him with our own ego, and think that our subjective feelings can define what is right and what is wrong.” (224)
24. OK, so maybe this is the understatement of the year
“Each age tends to have only a meagre awareness of its own limitations. It is possible that we do not grasp the gravity of the challenges now before us.” (105)
25. I have nothing to add to this.
“We are not God.” (67)
26. And the bottom line…
“Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.” (202)