As Media Partner to the upcoming annual event, the 5th Catholic Social Media Summit, Jungle Post team covered stories about the summit’s theme: IMPACT – Laudato Si and Social Media. Being an advocate of utilizing the positive impact of social media, we opted to partner and champion the mission of making our common home a better place.
More than a year ago, Pope Francis made the world curious with his unique encyclical. Though it is typical for popes to write documents regarding important – and controversial – issues in a worldwide scale, Pope Francis wrote about the degrading state of the environment. Surprisingly, it is a topic the Catholic Church refused to talk about in its complexity until now.
Upon publication of his document entitled Laudato Si,’ it made headlines all around the world and caught the attention of everyone, even non-Catholics, because of its strong and straightforward message.
As our planet continuously fall into disarray, we revisit the groundbreaking encyclical of the Holy Father. We will discuss the major messages the letter contains to open our eyes about the unabated problem that is yet to be solved.
1. It reminds us that environmental issues and the Catholic doctrine are deeply connected.
It’s title aptly chosen because Laudato Si’ is the first words of the prayer for the nature written by St. Francis of Assisi, who in turn considered as the patron of the environment. The pope, who got his papal name from this saint, wanted to start his papacy with something related with St. Francis. Hence, the encyclical. Religion and faith often clash when their ideologies are compared, but Laudato Si called for the unification of these two and attain an “intense dialogue fruitful for both.”
The letter also gives importance to life and its strong bond with God, neighbor, and the earth. These bonds, however, are dissolved because of sin. As a result, humans and nature became distant, broken, and always in conflict. Because all of us are created in accordance to God’s loving plan, our “ultimate destiny” was fulfilled when Christ rose from the dead. In exchange of this noble deed, all of creation – including us – is expected to move towards a “common point of arrival” back to the Creator. Therefore, no object created by God himself must be a tool of destruction, division, or war, because He never intended anyone to be in such way.
2. It reminded us that everything is connected.
If one thing will remind us of Laudato Si’, it is its ability to remind us that because of God’s everlasting love to all of creation, everything was interrelated in one way or another.
Therefore, the encyclical calls for something unexpected: the passing of civil laws that can be implemented well for the benefit of both man and nature. Pope Francis lamented the bitter truth of existing laws that only look good on black and white, but never on reality. Laudato Si’ emphasizes on the idea that every aborted child, every tree that was cut down, and every setbacks our society face are intertwined and will never be separated whatever we do. If we care for our fellow humans, we must also express unwavering love to our planet too.
As the stewards of this earth, we must attain an ecological sense towards all created by God. Everything on earth is connected with us, and it is connected with God us well. We will never get a direct connection with Him if we neglect the environment. Remember, all of creation has a mark of the Trinity, and if we want God to feel our warmth, we must start it by taking care of plants and animals.
3. It tackled the challenges the environment is facing right now.
Laudato Si’ is the letter which managed to influence a lot because it directly mentioned the environmental problems that we are all aware of but we continue to ignore. This includes the use of fossil fuel and carbons credits. Undoubtedly, we benefit from these two every day, but the environment does not. Pope Francis says here that technology is a symbol of mankind’s impressive wisdom, yet our freedom to think leads us to answer our self-interests and resort to violence and lose ethics. Therefore, we need set limits to all things that we consume. Because of our lavish lifestyle, we harm the environment in almost every way we do because we are not able to set boundaries.
The letter also mentioned genetic modification, which many Catholic leaders condemn, though the Holy Father chose not to make general judgments about it. He emphasized, however, that there are difficulties it presents that must not be placed aside, such as the imbalance it brings to the ecosystem.
4. It offered promising – and workable – solutions.
Just like what is mentioned above, Pope Francis wants laws to be passed that can be executed properly and not be mere words on paper. It can be turned into reality when political leaders set aside their own desires and agree on possible solutions through a consensus. On the international scale, the pope invites world leaders to create concordats that are possible to carry out, for these worldwide meetings can finally be the key in developing renewable and less polluting sources of energy, protection of marine and forest life, and the guarantee of clean water for everyone. Economy and politics often point fingers when problems arise, and while they are busy on arguing with each other, the environment suffers and is being destroyed in their battles. Both of them must work together and discover new and efficient ways to handle deadly environmental issues.
In the local scale, leaders are invited to lead their own communities in a stronger campaign in saving the environment through proper disposal and recycling, responsible consumption of goods, proper agriculture methods, and many more. After all, international agreements will be useless if small towns will not be able to conform to it.
Above all, Pope Francis encourages everyone to break the stigma of a “magical market,” where increase in profits is believed to be the way in solving economic problems. Because of this mindset, resources are exploited and needs of the poor goes down the drain.
5. It emphasized on the real roots of the problem: humankind.
What’s the reason of the sorry state of our planet? Humans. It is often said that we are the most feral specie here on earth, and our very existence plague the nature. Films and books nowadays often use the cunning actions of men as a reason of their apocalyptic plots. We often think we are the center of everything, and all things are just raw materials that we must consume. The fifth commandment, “You shall not kill” also applies to the environment as well. Every time we blatantly waste our earth’s riches, we put a stab to God Himself. His creation mirrors His glory, similar to how our faces mirror Him.
The change must start on every one of us. By changing our daily routines such as reducing energy consumption, following sanitary laws, and water conservation, we can solve these environmental problems slowly but surely. But our efforts must not stay within us. It must inspire our families, our friends, our communities, until we catch the attention of those who “wield political, economic, and social power.” Mankind needs a total ecological conversion, and it needs to do it today and it should not be delayed.
Now, just like every other law, Laudato Si’ will just be a letter. Some us maybe has a copy of it at home. We must start doing something now. Pope Francis tells us to “slow down and look at reality in a different way, because we are too occupied with so many things that our environment cannot accommodate us anymore. If we do things differently and appropriately, we can “call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread.” (Luke Godoy)