We continue our look at Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si. This week we have a brief overview of chapters 3 and 4 which are taken from the website
The third chapter, “The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis”, examines the twin notions of what it calls the “technocratic paradigm” and a “modern anthropocentrism” borne out of a view that sees nature as a mere given, devoid of any spiritual or transcendental value. These notions have led to the misplaced ideas that the earth’s resources are infinite and that economic growth and technology alone can solve global hunger and poverty. In reality, however, a purely materialistic view of reality has not only resulted in disregard for the environment, but also undermined the worth of a human life, especially those forms viewed as having little or no utility – human embryos, the poor, or people with disabilities.
At the heart of consumerist and profit-driven economic ideologies is a wrong-footed idea of dominion. The result is exploitation, and a throwaway attitude towards nature and human life itself. The encyclical calls for a bold cultural revolution in our attitude to development and progress. It puts it rather bluntly:
“Nobody is suggesting a return to the StoneAge, but we do need to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur.” .
In the fourth chapter, “Integral Ecology”, the encyclical charts a path to recapture awareness of the interconnectedness of creation. To do so, it is essential to appreciate the impact of environmental degradation on “cultural ecology”, such as those social networks and ways of life which are bound up with the environment in which communities are placed. The experience of indigenous peoples is specifically referred to in this regard.
Next week we conclude the overview of the encyclical with chapters 5 “Lines of Approach and Action” and 6 “Ecological Education and Spirituality”
Download the encyclical and read along: