06/19/2015, 00.00
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Pope Francis’ “green” encyclical and the social doctrine of the Church

by Bernardo Cervellera
"Right-wing” Catholics reject it as "communist"; the "left-wing" applaud it’s novelty, but what Francis writes in his "Laudato sì (Praise be)" is in line with the social doctrine of the Church. In keeping with John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI. Some apocalyptic voices announce "the end," the failure "of the modern era" and its "misguided anthropocentrism". Criticism of the political powers, an invitation to all to work together.

Rome (AsiaNews) - It is not an ecologist list of complaints and bucolic utopia, but an appeal to the world to make lifestyle changes in consumption, waste, energy and especially in how we view ourselves, others and God. The strong point of this new encyclical by Pope Francis, from the poetic title "Laudato sì" is to propose to everyone, Christian and non, environmentalists and technocrats, young and old a "conversion" to an integral vision of the concept of "environment" that says yes to nature, but also to man and those like him, the relationship with objects and with generations looking at everything as a gift, a "brother" and "sister", just like St. Francis loved to call everything in his Canticle of the Sun, from which the Pope chose the title of his work.

There is an urgency in the Pope’s text that indicates a possible apocalypse: not only that of a nature corrupted by pollution, melt glaciers, the greenhouse effect, but also the war of the rich and powerful technocrats, or the riots of the poor discarded by development along with the other waste of our consumer society.

Pope Francis is not soft on the model of contemporary society, based on a "misguided anthropocentrism", suffering from megalomania, which squeezes resources to increase profits, regardless of the victims be they animal, human or natural. He often cites Romano Guardini and his "The End of the Modern". In a sense, this encyclical announces the end of this model, which has failed in its ideals by pitting finance against labor; freedom of the few against the slavery of many; selfish interests against solidarity;  mastery of the world and men against communion and harmony.

His criticism of international and political powers is even stronger. He accuses them of being complicit with this model, weak in enforcing laws, incompetent in making decisions in favor of the common good.

But neither is he kind to the utopic ecologists, who dream of a world without cars, who sacrifice themselves to save an animal, but are silent on the discarded poor, the killing of human beings (abortion) and the genetic manipulation of living human embryos.

Some media have emphasized the release of this work as "the first encyclical by a Pope on the environment." Several "right-wing Catholics", especially in the US, have already rejected the Pope's proposal as "communist". Instead the "Catholic left" feel self-justified because "finally" the Pope "says they were right". In fact, everything that Francis states falls in line with the social doctrine of the Church, so much so that the Pope himself recalls his debt to John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whose "Caritas in veritate" first discussed several issues that Francis presented in a more comprehensive and thorough form in his encyclical.

Catholics of the left and right are called upon to take a step forward, toward that "conversion" to a global ecology, in which the care of the environment is part of the mission of the Church, as is also the defense of life, the dignity man, the relationship between male and female, of the family.

What is really new about this encyclical, is that for the first time it included the public contribution of an Orthodox leader, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. In addition - according to rumors - many contributions to the work came from scientists around the world of other religions. Moreover, Pope Francis invites all Christians and all religions to work together to rebuild the world, based on a respect for the planet, life, society, young people and this cannot be achieved without a religious reference, which looks at reality as a gift, a sign of God's love for us, not as an object to be manipulated at will.

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Encyclical: the concept of integral ecology is at the core of the document, says Card Turkson
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