Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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Q. Why has Pope Francis, who is so widely liked by the world, chosen to write an encyclical on so controversial a topic as climate control? Can’t politicians “use” the encyclical for political gain?

 

A. First, Pope Francis’ Encyclical about safeguarding our global environment by promoting an authentic human ecology is not primarily about a political agenda, or about implementing certain specific scientific norms for attaining a global esoteric ecological conversion, based on and fueled by stark socioeconomic theories.

Not at all; this grand Encyclical, Laudato Sí, transcends, in thrust, meaning and application, the ordinary, material and pragmatic dimensions of reality.

Citing Saint Francis of Assisi, the Holy Father bids us “to see that an integral Ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human.” (Sec. 10)

Notice that verb “bids.” The Encyclical is written as an invitation, an invitation to all authentic human beings, whatever their religious views, to at least begin exercising stewardship in behalf of Planet Earth, our “Common Home,” in a more responsible manner, lest God’s creation be compromised by misuse, abuse or crass neglect.

Furthermore, the Pope’s appeal in this document proceeds primarily from the Bible as read within the church, as well as from reason illuminated by Revelation.

The world’s climate, Pope Francis reminds us, is “a common good.” Pollution, therefore, is a destructive agent. Likewise, mountains of waste, facilitated by our “throwaway culture.” (Sec. 20) The carbon cycle, a problem in and of itself, also needs addressing.

Moreover, the quality of drinking water needs to be protected, since access to safe drinking water is a basic and universal right.

And what about the consequences of failing to meet the needs of stewardship? Isn’t one of these effects a loss of biodiversity? (Sec. 32)

Consider the Holy Father’s words here:

“The loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and other uses…”

And: “Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us…” (Secs. 32, 33)

Pope Francis also alludes to the economic consequences of our failures in stewardship of the planet. Greater widespread poverty is predictable. (Sec. 48-50)

The Holy Father devotes a large portion of his Encyclical to “The Gospel of Creation,” reaffirming that “we are not God.” (Sec. 67) Hence the mystery of the universe, to be complete and meaningful, is called to affirm God as Creator. (Sec. 75)

Thus, all so-called “solutions” to our ecological responsibilities ultimately reflect not merely socioeconomic aspects of reality, but, more fundamentally, theological ones. The Mystery of Creation is linked with the Mystery of Christ, through whom all things exist. (Sec. 99) He is the Word, the Logos, in the original Greek of St. John’s Gospel, through whom all things came into existence. (1:3)

From all of the considerations cited above, it is hardly likely that any politician can be tempted to “use” the Holy Father’s Encyclical, Laudato Sí, for sheer sociopolitical ends.

The Encyclical towers over the socio-political world too much, essentially so.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.