After reading Laudato Si cover to cover, and making numerous notes, it became obvious, for the sake of coherent commenting, that the disparate material had to be collected and discussed under major headings: truth, pantheism, syncretism, sustainability, subsidiarity, collectivism, actions and prayers.
Even after writing the preceding chapters, something still lurked between the lines as unrecognized, unsaid. So I carefully re-read the entire Encyclical, as both a check on previous impressions as well as to determine if anything else should be added. During that re-reading there came a certain clarity that, indeed, it is the Church’s role in both the problem and in the proposed solutions that had barely been touched. In the end, this became the most disturbing insight of all. Where is the Church in the causes, the actions, and the potential cures? (If, indeed, these matters merit Church action.)
Causes of concern
What Laudato Si calls “an ecological crisis” (#15) is blamed variously on corporate greed, government corruption and inaction, and rampant consumerism, among other causes. Where the Encyclical is mysteriously silent is regarding any significant role that the Church should have (or could have) exercised in preventing the current environmental decay — not in the sense of recycling or not sponsoring a pit mine — but in consistently pursuing her God-given role to teach, to govern and to sanctify. Are not greed, corruption, sloth, and serving mammon instead of God among the many sins and disturbances of soul which are subject to the Church’s evangelization and preaching? In good times and in bad? In season and out of season?
Why, then, have we heard so little to this point? Without denying any relevant preaching, teaching or ‘speeching’ which might have taken place, anywhere in the world, it is hard to argue that the Church has had a foremost role as key champion during the alleged demise of the world environment. If there is such importance as now attached, where was the active involvement in prior decades? The very absence of such advocacy cannot be dismissed as having had no impact. What is not avidly pursued, what is not spoken of from the pulpit urgently and consistently, will not have much attention in the minds and hearts of those in the pews. (If this sounds too farfetched, consider just in the U.S.A., over decades even up to the present day, the obvious absence of pulpit preaching against contraception, abortion, fornication, euthanasia and same sex unions, to understand why a majority of self-identified Catholics today disagree with the Church on at least one issue. They may often see no difference between having an ‘opinion’ vs. a rightly formed conscience, if indeed the concept of “rightly formed conscience” is even a rightly formed thought!
We need look no further than paragraph #57 of Laudato Si, which words are aimed against
“powerful financial interests [which] prove most resistant… and political planning [which] tends to lack breadth of vision.” (#57)
Laudato Si asks an almost rhetorical question about the responsibility of highly powerful organizations; yet, cannot the same question be asked, regarding the leading moral issues of our day, of the most powerful organization in the world, the one which holds the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven? The Encyclical reads:
“What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” (#57)
Action (or not) Read the rest of this entry »