For many years Fr. Antonio Sarducci has been climbing the Curial pole as the one who consistently tells the truth to the Supreme Pontiff. Unknown to most Vatican watchers, Fr. Sarducci,the brother of the infamous Guido the former gossip columnist for L’Osservatore Romano, has steadily deepened his spiritual life. After a 40 day retreat on Toronto’s Centre Island in the year 2001, Sarducci returned to Rome a changed man. Today, mirabile dictu, he has become an intimate of Pope Francis.
Though living in Rome, Antonio through modern communications has stayed in touch with many Toronto friends and has often leaked Pope Francis’ message to the cardinals of the Roman church.
After the groundbreaking encyclical on the environment Laudato Si Papa Francesco immediately sent a strong missive, to all of Canada’s bishops. Fr.Tony has graciously forwarded this to us. In the pope’s own words:
Fratelli in Christo
You all received an advance copy of my latest encyclical in which I ask you as putative leaders in the Church and indeed “all Christians to recognize and live fully this dimension of their conversion” to ecological justice. As you undoubtedly remember in the long-forgotten 1971 Synod of Bishops document Justice in the World, our brothers in Christ in the glow of Vatican ll stated:
Action on behalf of of justice and participation in the transformation of the world appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the gospel
Apparently this has been forgotten in the last few decades, never taught in our seminaries and that is why I am asking you to awake from your slumber and stop placing the church at the heart of your ministry. As our beloved predecessor Pope Paul Vl reminded us in his prophetic Exhortation of 1975 Evangelization in the Modern World the only thing which is ultimate is the reign of God: peace, justice and the integrity of creation. As our forefathers stated then “It makes everything else irrelevant”—and that includes, the church, the priesthood and the sacraments—everything.
In previous speeches, I have asked you to subordinate your fascination with what some have called “pelvic orthodoxy.” Catholics by now have heard this episcopal drumbeat for all too long (a one note Samba as we say in Argentina) .The faithful in case you have not noticed have made giant strides in their theological sophistication since the end of Vatican ll. They have well understood that the gospel of Jesus the poor man of Galilee is so much more than sexual ethics which seems to have consumed us celibates. They correctly name the gap between the rich and the poor, the imperialism of money, peacemaking, the cry of the excluded and in our time the deep cry of our sister, the womb that nourishes us all, the earth. As I wrote in section 2 of the encyclical
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).
Fr Tony has reminded me that the prophetic, to quote a song of the 60s, is “often written on the subway walls.” And he has directed me to a song by a Detroit singer Bob Seger. It is called It’s Your World
It’s Your World
Let’s talk about acid in the ocean
Let’s look at all the dying coral reefs
Let’s talk about shorter growing seasons
Let’s talk about what we’re gonna eat
Say a prayer for the victims of extinction
Say another for the redwood trees
Say another for arctic and the tundra
Let’s talk about who we’re tryin’ to please
It’s your world
The rich keep bitchin’ and the rest keep wishin’ it away
All these children have to face our mess someday
Let’s talk about mining in Wisconsin
Let’s talk about breathing in Beijing
Let’s talk about chemicals in rivers
Let’s talk about cash as king
Let’s talk about runoff from the mountains
Check the levels on Lake Mead
Let’s talk about mortgaging the future
We borrow and we borrow and we borrow, borrow, borrow
It’s your world
Apparently Mr Seger gets it. It indeed is our world. This is the great economy in which everything else must be subordinated; the earth is primary, the very basis of all human and non-human life. Destroy this base and nothing all matters. Leaders like your Prime Minister seem to have been locked into a death-dealing economic fundamentalism. I gently hinted this to him in our 10 minute meeting.
Now as your leader I am asking you “to get it.”
In section 219 of my encyclical I have directed you “beyond the personal”.
Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds. This task “will make such tremendous demands of man that he could never achieve it by individual initiative or even by the united effort of men bred in an individualistic way.
So I am asking you to make links and common cause with those secular groups who have worked so hard in defending the earth while your parishes have absented themselves from the social struggle. Fr.Guido has told me
that the Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club are all active in Canada. Embrace them; learn from them .The old adage “If Catholics are not leading the parade, they are not in it’ has sadly been true.This must stop. Humility demands that our parishes act in loving concert with those salvific elements in our society.
So, my brother bishops, I am requesting that within 30 days you convene your parish, engage the many experts, Catholic and non-Catholic, whom you have heretofore ignored and get moving. This encyclical invites you to study, prayer and necessary action in defense of our holy earth which has been maltreated for far too long.
I conclude with words from my encyclical:
It must be said that some committed and prayerful Christians, with the excuse of realism and pragmatism, tend to ridicule expressions of concern for the environment. Others are passive; they choose not to change their habits and thus become inconsistent. So what they all need is an “ecological conversion”, whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.
In solidarity with you and the earth,