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Laudato Si -- On Care for Our Common Home Paperback – July 18, 2015
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St. Francis of Assisi used this phrase to praise the earth and all its creatures and features as an expression of God. Just as St. Francis referred to all living creatures as our “brothers” and “sisters,” the Pope issued this Encyclical to apply these sentiments to the modern day to address the issue of environmental degradation. This present book, Laudato Si’, is that Encyclical, a clear, passionate, devotional explanation for the modern world to realize the consequences of the degradation of the planet and a plea to cherish and rediscover the lost reverence and respect for the earth’s natural environment.
This book is a book on the environment like no other. Rather than recommending short-term technological or political solutions, Pope Francis states that before cleaning the environment the human race must first clean its own inner house and change its own attitude to itself and others.
Disrespect for the environment is an act, and any act originates from a mental attitude. If polluting the environment is the result of a human mental attitude, it would be simple for Laudato Si’ to simply say, “Don’t pollute.” Pope Francis however goes further: What are the psychological impulses and motivations behind that attitude?
Here is where Laudato Si’ gets interesting. Pope Francis digs deep into the human psyche to identify the psychological drives which support an attitude and act to disrespect the environment.
What the Pope believes may surprise the reader. Pope Francis characterizes the degradation of the environment not only as a crime against the planet and to all its inhabitants, but as a sin against God. God after all created the planet and the planet and all the creatures who live on the planet are God’s gift to Humankind. However, Pope Francis identifies other impulses and motivations which result in the disrespect for this planet. They include
• Slavish infatuation with technology. Technology should assist the people which creates that technology and offer solutions to clean the environment. The reality is that technology only offers band-aid solutions to clean the environment and the technology invariably becomes the master of humans, not the other way around.
• The insatiable appetite for profit and financial gain regardless to the consequences to the environment or to other people.
• In his most innovative explanation for the root cause of pollution, the Pope identifies the “exultation of the Subject,” in other words that sense of individuality which only reinforces a division between man and nature.
• Rampant, unbridled Consumerism, which treats every item produced as disposable impermanent object.
• The desire to dominate, whether that domination is to another object or over another human being.
The degradation of the environment, then, is not simply throwing your Coca Cola can out the window, but is symptomatic of the mental and spiritual maladies which plague the world. These maladies find expression not only in polluting the environment, but in other social ills. The Pope identifies income and wage disparity, social injustice, and poverty, to name a few.
Pope Francis does not limit his discussion to environmental pollution. The Pope criticizes present-day excesses in neo-liberal ideologies, global capitalistic corporations, and free-market economies, all of which are also symptomatic of the same disrespect that leads to ravishing the environment.
In the final analysis this is a book of literary beauty. The talking points in this review do little justice to the prosaic grace and devotional eloquence found in this book. It is a book that can be enjoyed on many levels. It is highly recommended.
This book can be used for group discussions in parishes of every denomination. It does not choose political sides but encourages dialogue with between family, friends, government officials and corporations. This very readable, beautifully written and spiritually grounded book is an excellent example of the leadership role Pope Francis has taken to meet the #! challenges of the 21st Century.
The translation seems readable and direct. The Pope's views on ecology, economic systems, technology and the dignity of man inspire.
Rating is for this publication, not the writing of the Pope, which suffers at the hand of so sloppy a publisher.