Willfully harming the ecology of Planet Earth will soon be a sin, says Pope Francis in his recent encyclical to Christians titled ‘ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME.’ With this, the Pope has elevated the conversation about climate change from a mere environmental phenomenon to also include the spiritual, moral and ethical elements. And the ecological sin is not only against God, but also against the neighbor and the future generations.
Analysts say the encyclical will have a huge influence on the current climate change dialogue between nations which is gearing up for the global summit in Paris in December this year. Pope Francis is expected to address the summit.
Here’s a cursory glance at the highlights of the 180-page encyclical which experts say is a document with far-reaching significance not only to Christians but to the whole world.
- It is the duty of the Church (implying all religions) to add a spiritual dimension to climate change
- Promote ecological consciousness
- Theology and ecology are not independent, they thrive together
- Pursuit of individual happiness is the major cause
- Deep respect for science
- Slow action, delays and half-measures major cause of the problem
- Corrupt culture and inadequate laws are equally responsible for the mess
- Advocacy for honoring the planet and not seeing it as something meant for exploitation by humans
- Put an end to frenetic consumption
- Reject throw-away culture and promote reuse
- Deep restraint in consumption of natural resources
- Climate Change harms the poor the most – work towards greater ecological equity which will result in greater social and economic equity
- Need for ecological asceticism – A new way of life
Pope Francis has called for ‘A global ecological conversion.’ He is optimistic about humans arriving at a solution. He said: “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Here I want to recognize, encourage and thank all those striving in countless ways to guarantee the protection of the home which we share. Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”
The Pope’s clarion call can have a greater effect if religious leaders of all faiths take his cue and get organized to influence their followers. Until the faithful, who are also the consumers, change their behavior and apply pressure on businesses, the change will be slow.
Link to the full document http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html