Pope Francis has issued a revolutionary call for the human race to stop destroying the earth and human dignity. On June 18th, the Pope issued his encyclical, “Laudato Si (“Praise Be to You”) On Caring for Our Common Home,” which weaves together his calls for reversing climate change as well as ending the inequality between the poor and the rich because these issues are related. His pronouncement, based on science, harkens us all to think in terms of an integral ecology, that all living creatures are interconnected here on our mother earth. To literally save ourselves and our only living planet, we need to reform how we live and treat each other.
It is human activity that needs to change. The Pope believes such change is possible, but we need to act swiftly. The destruction of precious resources in the name of over-consumption will leave a toxic planet for our children and our children’s children, a planet that is already experiencing the biggest crisis of mass refugees across borders since 1945, based on climate change, poverty, and war. The destructive forces of the economic markets need to be harnessed by changing our lifestyle, production, and consumption. Be thoughtful of others, including our common home of nature itself.
“We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental,” as Pope Francis perceptively declares. A dying planet is hurting the poor among us by exacerbating their already meager living conditions. Toxic soil, polluted air, dirty water cannot sustain life. We must dignify our sisters and brothers living in poverty by cleaning up how we, in the rich nations, harm them. We must be mindful of dignifying their very existence by preserving the commons.
Life is for the living – if only our Republican Congress will act. Even the smallest of ecological reforms as sought by President Obama, like limiting emissions from coal-fired power plants, are defeated on party lines. Sowing individualistic fear at the expense of healthy communal living has been the rallying cry of the Grand Old Party for decades now – and these Republicans are now finally reaping what they have sowed. Catholic Republican candidates are now forced to scurry, in the midst of their cognitive dissonance with their vicar, to reconcile what it is they believe, both faith-wise and politically. Destruction is a “value” to which Republicans often faithfully adhere and which the Pope does not.
We, as Democrats in support of our Democratic president who has tried mightily to save the planet the best he can, must act. We must stop the violence to our human race, to our animals and plants, to our earth. This pope—who chose the name Francis in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, a man of poverty who is the patron saint of animals and ecology—is helping us Americans of the First World lead the way. We must heed his call for reform by demanding action of ourselves and our elected officials. “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?” as Pope Francis queries. Indeed.
Kristin Cabral, Chair
Faith and Values Task Force