Deputy Principal - Mission & Faith


Laudato Si – Part 3

In previous editions of the Newsletter I explained the unique nature of Pope Francis encyclical on the environment and then outlined the reactions from various people throughout the world.  So what has Francis actually said?  What does he see as the issues?  What does he want us to do?  Let me take you though some of the key aspects of the encyclical.  Firstly, Francis has added spirituality and poetry to what has been until now a technological, economic and political debate.  His first words to us are from St Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures composed in 1225:

“Laudato Si, mi Signore” – “Praise be to you my Lord”.  In the words of the canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.  “Praise be to you my Lord, through sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs”. (para. 1)

And again later he says:  “The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things.” (para 233)

Francis goes on to say, “this sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” (para. 2)  This is a global problem with grave implications for the environment, for society, for the economy, politically and for the distribution of good (para. 25).  Francis is concerned that there has been a lack of responses to this issue and he blasts those in politics, “…powerful financial interests prove most resistant to this effort, and political planning tends to lack breadth of vision.  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?” (para. 57)

Francis reflects on technology acknowledging its improvement to living conditions but goes on to say however that it gives “those with the knowledge, and especially the economic resources to use them, an impressive dominance over the whole of humanity and the entire world” (para. 104). He indicates that it is precisely the mentality of technocratic domination that leads to the destruction of nature and the exploitation of people, especially the most vulnerable populations. “The technocratic paradigm also tends to dominate economics and political life” (para. 109), keeping us from recognizing that “by itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion” (para. 109). 

In the next edition of the Newsletter I will present Francis’ solutions to the issues outlined here and the prayers he has asked us to say to God for the world and the environment.


Dr Michael Grace

Deputy Principal - Mission & Faith