Pope Francis rocks the world-and Catholics too


Pope Francis second Encyclical is entitled Praise be to you, my Lord or On Care for Our Common Home which I am sure this teaching will be known. For many of us encyclicals and papal letters are are known by their Latin names (Populorum Progressio, Octogesima Adveniens etc) so in this case Laudato si . The central question posed by Francis: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (no. 160).

I love the way Francis refers to our common patrimony, the earth. Much like the man from Assisi of the 13th century, he speaks in relational terms. He refers to the earth as “our sister.” Right off the bat he lays out the harm which humans have inflicted on the earth.

This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Francis deeply understands what economic fundamentalists such as Stephen Harper simply does not get, namely that the environment is the primal economy, the basis of all our human and non-human life. Destroy the base and nothing else matters.As the great cosmologist Tom Berry reminds us,”our real threat is from the retaliatory powers of the abused earth, not from other nations.”

The Harpers of this world are captured by one dimensional and destructive thinking of GDP and wealth production(in our case Tar Sands oil) a closed system of commercial transactions, production an exchange of goods. This is the blindness of contemporary neoliberal economics. It absolutely fails to understand that the earth and its life giving sources are primary, not secondary to runaway wealth creation. What is the pricer of earth, air and water?Instead of GDP we need to worry about Gross Earth Deficit, how our industrial economy is closing down the planet.

This is a brilliant start which should challenge somnolent pastors into action and give great hope to those who have laboured long and hard trying to bring sanity to an industrial world out of control. Catholic pastors, by and large, right now, are totally out of the gospel loop. Few have understood that they must hitch their narrow parish wagons to movements beyond their heretofore narrow parish concerns. Each parish in this country should unashamedly have a ginger group of committed activists linked to the David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth, the Sierra Club ,350.org all organizations which have been doing the heavy lifting in the defense of the earth.


Many young Catholics have become so disenchanted by a church which has become so depoliticized, so abstract in its commitment to our common struggle that they have left in droves.Pope Francis may give them confidence that they have been right all along, that their church has been woefully behind the call of the Master to see that “thy will be done on earth”. This includes our defense of creation, the greatest moral challenge of this century.



  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    What a powerful letter!
    But you said it first Ted! “The most moral issue of our times” to quote the prophetic Schmidt!
    And what a bombshell of an encyclical that puts to shame backbench prelates like Collins et alii who have fallen inline with Emporer Harper who takes his marching orders from the oil barons.
    Without question this pope is on fire! What a bombshell for Jed Bush and those Neanderthal republicans, not to mention the nay saying Harperites here in Conservativeland.

    And just in time for the UN meeting in France. So now- what about a Canadian led Catholic statement on Climate Change? How about a Collins led delegation or at least a major statement to all Catholic s about an informed conscience on climate change prior to the upcoming October election? Ohh shoot! I forgot! Didn’t Collins et alii send Trudeau to Hell on the abortion issue which trumped climate change? Hmm gee, just where is Collins?

  2. 2
    mushafta Says:

    The much awaited encyclical has come! This was the big one! Prelates, priests and lay folk all ready for the big read.

    What? No one noticed or cared to read?

    Afraid to say it…Catholic interest in climate change just does not register like abortion. Abortion trumps all. Sad. Very sad.

  3. 3

    Mushtafa – if you read the encyclical you would have noticed paragraph 120. Read paragraph 155, since you seem to be so focussed on such matters.

    The Pope says “integral ecology” to include ALL of creation (earth and its inhabitants) and he purposefully draws attention to BXVI’s term “human ecology.” Ecology is incomplete if it only focuses on the natural world and leaves out human care.

    Can you give the reader the citation for Cdl. Collins’ statement sending Trudeau to Hell? We’d be interested to know.

  4. 4
    mushafta Says:

    I think I made myself sufficiently clear Cattiva Kate. The Canadian bishops and cardinals are light years behind this forward thinking pope. He gets it. They don’t. Canadian Catholic newspapers are all about abortion- pro life rallies and now assisted suicide stuff. This is all very well and fine but they miss the big picture. Same with Palestine. How many bishops are heading off on pilgrimage with their flock to view the Holy Land? Wonderful to have 5 or 6K lying around to get a purist’s view of Palestine with an interpretor’s lense to assure the real truth of what’s happening there does not escape.

    I really don’t see our bishops doing much with this encyclical- other than letting it lie in the dust.

  5. 5

    I did not say that you did not make yourself clear. I merely asked for a citation. At the same time please also give citation on the bishops who spend 5 or 6k on trips to Israel. Hyperbole is good for drama and poetry, but not for arguing a point.

    “… assisted suicide stuff. This is all very well and fine but they miss the big picture.” Yeah, effectively discriminating against the sick and aging by killing them and “stuff” like that is so banal.

    A quick search on the Catholic Register website yielded 8 finds on “assisted suicide” dating back to April, while “environment” yielded 13 for June alone. Hyperbole.

    What would you like the bishops to do regarding the encyclical, or any other? It’s recently released. Do you take note of very bishop in every diocese across Canada to see what they are doing? Should they organize a rally? Plant a tree? Maybe now I’m being hyperbolic, but I’m not sure what you expect. Pope Francis articulated and defended a truth that Christ established and the bishops give this message to their diocese, like they do with every encyclical. They are not the political activists you seem to think they should be.

    • 6
      mushafta Says:

      They are JP2 appointed prelates- hell bent on towing the conservative line. Where are the Canadian Hunthausens? The Berrigans- who risked jail to make a political point- where are they?
      I believe Bishop Henry cast Joe Clarke into Hell some years ago for taking part in a pride parade. You’re right.. Collins may have denounced Trudeau for his stance on abortion but he fell short of putting him in Hell. As far as Catholics in his diocese- it amounts to the same thing politically.

  6. 7
    mushafta Says:

    Cattiva Kate..are you totally oblivious to the annual pilgrimages to the holy Land by Catholic archdioceses? Totally? How can a touring bishop be prayerfully present to his fellow tourist flock while simultaneously acknowledging the criminal assault of Palestinians? This amounts to a sham and mockery of justice!

  7. 8

    Reblogged this on allanbaker.

  8. 9
    mushafta Says:

    Right on brother Allan! Now if only the clergy would start to get it! Now that’s asking for a miracle!

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