LAUDATO SI – POPE FRANCIS’ ENCYCLICAL ON THE ENVIRONMENT
In 1990 Pope John Paul II proclaimed that ‘’animals too have souls ‘’.
Before that, Pope Paul VI who died in 1978 is reputed to have said ‘’One day we will again see our animals in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures’’.
Published 18-06-2015, Pope Francis’ Encyclical is about humankind’s degradation of the planet, with sub themes being our abuse of animals and disregard for the poor.
The Pope says there is a relationship between human beings and other creatures, and sin breaks the equilibrium of all creation in its entirety. He says that we are evasively ‘’carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption’’ instead of changing them.
Some Christians ‘’ridicule expressions of concern for the environment.’’ They need ‘’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.’’
We need ‘’to aim for a new lifestyle’’. The Pope notes that we can change our daily habits by, for instance, reducing water consumption, recycling waste, turning off unnecessary lights.
He says that human beings no longer recognise their right place with respect to the world and take on a self-centred position. He attacks the vision of ‘’might is right’’.
The Pope says that ‘’..we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.’’ Human beings have the responsibility to ‘’till and keep’’ the garden of the world knowing that ‘’the ultimate purpose of other creatures is not to be found in us. Rather, all creatures are moving forward, with us and through us, towards a common point of arrival, which is God.’’
He says that science must not treat other creatures ‘’as mere objects’’ and that ‘’it is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.’’ Every act of cruelty towards any creature is contrary to human dignity, he says.
‘’Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself….we are called to recognise that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes.’’
‘’We read in the Gospel that Jesus says of the birds of the air that ‘not one of them is forgotten before God’. How then can we possibly mistreat them or cause them harm?’’
‘’THE HUMAN PERSON GROWS MORE, MATURES MORE AND IS SANCTIFIED MORE TO THE EXTENT THAT HE OR SHE ENTERS INTO RELATIONSHIPS, GOING OUT FROM THEMSELVES TO LIVE IN COMMUNION WITH GOD, WITH OTHERS AND WITH ALL CREATURES’’.
The Vatican’s Guidance Notes on the Encyclical propose that, in the light of Laudato Si, an examination of the conscience should include a new dimension, which is how have we related to all creatures and to nature, along with the usual how have we related to God, to other people and to ourselves. Catholic Action for Animals. Contact:- firstname.lastname@example.org