Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pope Francis' Emphatic, Reality-Based Remarks On The Environment

"The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth."

That's from Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato Si," released today. You can read the whole thing in English here if you like.

As I understand it, Papal encyclicals are still written in Latin, and then translated from Latin into many other languages. I've never been able to find any Catholic doscuments written post-Vatican-II (post-1962) in book form, and I haven't been able to find "Laudato Si" in Latin on the Internet. However, to my great surprise, today I found this page on the Vatican website which contains Latin versions of some documents written by Francis, including his 1st encyclical, which was published in 2013, so I assume -- no, I don't assume. I hope, but the Vatican website has disappointed and puzzled me so severely so many times that I no longer assume anything at all about it -- I hope that "Laudato Si," Francis' 2nd encyclical, will soon be on this page in its original Latin.

For now, back to the English version: Francis mentions that every one of his predecessors going back to John XXIII spoke out against the destruction of our environment; that many of those most badly affected by this destruction are the poorest of humanity, that many of the Earth's wealthy seem more concerned with covering up the problems of pollution and global warming than in addressing them; denounces "social exclusion" and "an inequitable distribution of energy and other services;" points out that fresh waters supplies are quickly dwindling while "access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right;” and that plant and animals species are dying out very rapidly, with disastrous results for remaining life; denounces previous political responses to the environmental crisis as weak, saying that international environmental summits "have not lived up to expectations because, due to lack of political will, they were unable to reach truly meaningful and effective global agreements;" opposes free-market capitalism with remarks such as “by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion;” assets that when it comes to how we interact with the Earth's enviroinment, "we need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity." [...]

In short: over and over again in this encyclical, Francis says things about the environment and politics which we all know are true, and which almost of the politicians in the GOP in the US say are false, and it's full of a sort of common decency which is in short supply in the GOP. (I apologize to my international readers for this conclusion to a post about an international figure and his statements on an international problem, but the contrast between Francis and the GOP is so striking that I had to mention it. I'm sure that much of the same is true of many political parties in other countries.)

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