Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pope Francis' Encyclical on the Environment

Here are excerpts from Pope Francis' recent encyclical. As a wordsmith and as one who has struggled with the turgid prose of prior pontiffs, I appreciate his eloquence and creative thought as well as the skill of his English translator:

Referring to his namesake, Francis of Assisi, he writes of the need for a direct, personal, _feeling_ relation with the world, what Buber would call "I-Thou":

"... if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled."

And in the first chapter, he continues this theme of bringing the reality of the current situation into our hearts, the only place where it can really lead to action:

"Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it."


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