06/18/2015, 00.00
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Encyclical: call for an "ecological conversion" to retrieve ethical dimension of development (3)

"Christian spirituality proposes an alterna­tive understanding of the quality of life, and en­courages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the ob­session with consumption". "It is no longer enough to speak only of the integrity of ecosys­tems. We have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life, of the need to promote and unify all the great values​​".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - In order to solve the environmental crisis that is going through the planet need a holistic approach, an" ecological conversion "that call into question the development model and contrasts at the same time, together with pollution and global warming even poverty, helping less developed countries to improve their conditions. A conversion, says the final part of the encyclical, which requires a "global consensus", a rebalancing of the power relationship between the economy - now dominant - and politics- also thanks to the active participation of civil society - with the goal of changing the model of global development. " Put simply, it is a matter of redefining our notion of progress. A technological and economic development which does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be consid­ered progress "(n. 194).

"Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motiva­tions which make it possible for us to live in har­mony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well "(n. 200). In the end, there is a need to retrieve the ethical dimension of development, "the

awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone". It is an "educational challenge" that must involve the school, the family, the media, catechesis, and others.

Pope Francis sees the ecological crisis, as "a call to a profound inner conversion”.  In this "Christian spirituality proposes an alterna­tive understanding of the quality of life, and en­courages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the ob­session with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious tradi­tions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment"(n. 222). This is why the Church has proposed the ideal of a "civilization of love” to the world. "Social love is key to genuine development", to "a culture of care".

The goal of "sustainable development" originates from the realization that there is an ecological crisis and the consideration that "we know how unsustainable is the behaviour of those who constantly consume and destroy, while others are not yet able to live in a way worthy of their human dignity. That is why the time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to ex­perience healthy growth"(n. 193). "What is needed is a politics which is far­sighted and capable of a new, integral and inter­disciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis" (n. 197).

The encyclical considers these needs from the viewpoint that "An interdependent world not only makes us more conscious of the neg­ative effects of certain lifestyles and models of production and consumption which affect us all; more importantly, it motivates us to ensure that solutions are proposed from a global perspective, and not simply to defend the interests of a few countries. Interdependence obliges us to think of one world with a common plan"(n. 164). Thus there is a need to change "a  global consensus" that so far has not been achieved. Such as the necessary replacement of "technology based on highly polluting fossil fuels”, "politics and business have been slow to react in a way commensurate with the urgency of the challeng­es facing our world", despite the attention and commitment of civil society. "Recent World Summits on the environment have not lived up to expectations because, due to lack of political will” (n. 166), although there are "positive experiences" such as the Basel Convention on hazardous waste and the binding Convention on international trade in species of wild fauna and flora threatened with extinction.

It is "the same mindset which stands in the way of making radical decisions to reverse the trend of global warming also stands in the way of achieving the goal of eliminating poverty " (n. 175). It is the drama of a “politics focused on immediate results".  To counter this society, through non-governmental organizations and intermediary associations, is forced to react, forcing governments to develop standards, procedures and stricter and transparent controls, against a corruption which can “conceal the actual environ­mental impact of a given project, in exchange for favours" (n. 182). "Environmental impact assessment should not come after the drawing up of a business proposition or the proposal of a particular poli­cy, plan or programme. It should be part of the process from the beginning, and be carried out in a way which is interdisciplinary, transparent and free of all economic or political pressure"(n. 183).

“Politics must not be subject to the econ­omy, nor should the economy be subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of tech­nocracy. Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life. Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay the price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system, a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises af­ter a slow, costly and only apparent recovery” (n. 189).  “Since the market tends to promote ex­treme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. Compulsive consumerism is one example of how the techno-economic paradigm affects indi­viduals. This paradigm leads people to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed free­dom to consume. But those really free are the mi­nority who wield economic and financial power” (n. 203). “Yet all is not lost. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good” (n. 205).

“The Earth Charter asked us to leave be­hind a period of self-destruction and make a new start, but we have not as yet developed a universal awareness needed to achieve this. Here, I would echo that courageous challenge: “As never before in history, common destiny beckons us to seek a new beginning… Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quick­ening of the struggle for justice and peace, and the joyful celebration of life” (n. 207).

The ecological crisis, in fact, "a call to a deep inner conversion," an "educational challenge" to create an "ecological citizenship". "The rich heritage of Christian spiritual­ity, the fruit of twenty centuries of personal and communal experience, has a precious contribution to make to the renewal of humanity. Here, I would like to offer Christians a few suggestions for an ecological spirituality grounded in the con­victions of our faith, since the teachings of the Gospel have direct consequences for our way of thinking, feeling and living"(n. 218).

“In calling to mind the figure of Saint Fran­cis of Assisi, we come to realize that a healthy relationship with creation is one dimension of overall personal conversion”. “This conversion calls for a number of at­titudes which together foster a spirit of generous care, full of tenderness. First, it entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quiet­ly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works”. “It also entails a loving awareness that we are not dis­connected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion”. “By developing our individual, God-given capacities, an ecological conversion can inspire us to greater creativity and enthusiasm in resolving the world’s problems”. (n. 220).

“Christian spirituality proposes an alterna­tive understanding of the quality of life, and en­courages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the ob­session with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious tradi­tions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be se­renely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of under­standing and personal fulfilment. Christian spirit­uality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a re­turn to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spirit­ually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures” (n. 222).

“Such sobriety, when lived freely and con­sciously, is liberating” (n.223). “Sobriety and humility were not favoura­bly regarded in the last century. And yet, when there is a general breakdown in the exercise of a certain virtue in personal and social life, it ends up causing a number of imbalances, including environmental ones. That is why it is no longer enough to speak only of the integrity of ecosys­tems. We have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life, of the need to promote and unify all the great values” (n. 224).

“Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion” (n. 228). “

We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared re­sponsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it. We have had enough of immorality and the mockery of ethics, goodness, faith and honesty. It is time to acknowledge that light-hearted superficiality has done us no good” (n. 229).

“Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and com­mitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also “mac­ro-relationships, social, economic and political ones”.156 That is why the Church set before the world the ideal of a “civilization of love” (n. 231).

The encyclical concludes with two prayers:  “The first we can share with all who believe in a God who is the all-powerful Creator, while in the other we Chris­tians ask for inspiration to take up the commit­ment to creation set before us by the Gospel of Jesus”.

Encyclical: "An irre¬sponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed the Earth (1)

Encyclical: ecological crisis is a human, social and ethical crisis (2)

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