The Cry of the Earth.
During Laudato Si Week in May, I set myself the task of reading Pope Francis’ letter, ‘our care for our Common Home’. My world was turned upside down; my shallow thinking challenged; my love of nature put in its place, that is ‘way down the line’.
Pope Francis closed his letter with these words:
“We humans lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes, and ways of life. A great cultural, spiritual, and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” Laudato Si. # 202
The 2015 encyclical, on ecology and climate change, was a revelation to me. As humans we are gifted with freedom, free to act, free to put others first, free to be a servant of nature; free to tend to Mother Earth to provide us with clean air and water, rich soil, and unpolluted sunlight, the essentials of all life. Yet we have failed to do so, both physically and spiritually.
Pope Francis calls us to respect each person’s human dignity; to care for one another irrespective of nationality, colour, religion, or culture. This is a strong message in the face of war and civil unrest in a world deeply divided between ‘haves and have-nots’’; between humanity and the planet itself that we have exploited, out of greed and for personal satisfaction. Both Earth and Humanity are the losers because of the ferocious appetite on the part of mankind for more and more. The phrase comes to mind: ‘Live simply that others may simply live’. Pope Francis speaks of ‘less is more’.
Laudato Si is not an easy read because of its technical and scientific content, and again, because of its theological and spiritual message. The document of some 125 pages, but well served with bite-side sections, draws on the worldwide debate and the clear evidence that Mother Earth is very unwell. Behind the letter is a wealth of research and deep thinking by experts from many related fields of learning.
Yuri Gagarin, the first human to travel into space, said of our planet: “it’s a rich coloured spectrum … a light blue aureole that gradually darkens”. Neil Armstrong, the first human to set foot on the moon, declared: “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small”.
Pope Francis, with his feet firmly on the ground challenges us to breathe new life into the planet, to give Earth a chance to sustain life now and into the future. His message is positive if disturbing, it challenges us to befriend and care for our common home.
This is no ordinary letter. It is the agenda for ‘a new heaven and a new earth’. It is not a ‘save-the-natural-world’ campaign but save humanity from drawing a final breath sooner that anyone thought possible. It is a message that must not fall on deaf ears. Action alone will breathe life into our planet - not words. Yes, we need to heed the words of Pope Francis – now! Jordan op, June 2022.