The feast day of St Francis of Assisi, 4th October, falls on Sunday this year. For the last few years now, it also marks the end of the season of creation that begins on 1st September. These past weeks were a time for us to reflect of the gift of creation and our duty to care for it so that successive generations may enjoy the resources of the earth after us. Here we offer some of the most significant quotes from Pope Francis' encyclical 'Laudato Si' that was published in 2015 and remains the flagship document for the Church in being a prophetic voice for the protection of the environment into the future.
'We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will' (Para. 2).
'We have forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature” (para. 6).
'The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves” (para. 6).
'The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together' (para. 48)
'To hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor' (para.49).
'There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference' (para 52).
‘Everything is interconnected' (para. 70).
'That is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot. The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality' (para 75).
The work of the Church seeks not only to remind everyone of the duty to care for nature, but at the same time “she must above all protect mankind from self-destruction” (para 79).
“Nature is nothing other than a certain kind of art, namely God’s art, impressed upon things, whereby those things are moved to a determinate end' (para. 80).
God’s goodness “could not be represented fittingly by any one creature”…. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other” (para.86)
'When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature” (para. 117).
'Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God' (para. 119)
'Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. The Portuguese bishops have called upon us to acknowledge this obligation of justice: “The environment is part of a logic of receptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next”. An integral ecology is marked by this broader vision' (para. 159)
'If someone has not learned to stop and admire something beautiful, we should not be surprised if he or she treats everything as an object to be used and abused without scruple' (para. 215).
'Once we lose our humility, and become enthralled with the possibility of limitless mastery over everything, we inevitably end up harming society and the environment' (para. 224).