I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve been snarling and sniping about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical have not read it.
The reason I say that is that they are angry — purple in the face, hissing and spitting angry — about things it does not say. They are also angry about things they claim it doesn’t say that it in fact does.
Laudato Si has a simple underlying argument. Pope Francis reasons that our spiritual bankruptcy has led us into destroying our earth, along with destroying ourselves. He teaches that the loss of respect for the human through our attacks on the sanctity of human life have led us into an extreme individualism that has in turn led us to a destructive relativism.
This shallow and meretricious outlook on life has caused us to befoul and slime our own nest, our home, which is this planet Earth.
Our financial, economic, social and political institutions, all of which should serve the common good, now operate only for their own immediate competitive success, without the element of moral responsibility on the part of those who control them. This deforms human life on a mass scale and leads to the destruction of the planet on which we live.
He calls this destruction of human value and human community a destruction of the human ecology. His teaching is that the human ecology and the natural ecology are linked and interwoven, as they must be if human beings have dominion over the earth.
Laudato Si states at one point that the decision of whether or not to leave a dead planet to future generations is ours to make.
Media pundits have used false claims about what Laudato Si says to get gullible people worked up into a hysteria.
Here are 9 things that Laudato Si does not say, but that people have been told it does.
1. Laudato Si does not attack the free enterprise system.
2. Laudato Si does not advocate Marxism. (This would be laughable except that foolish people keep falling for it.)
3. Laudato Si does not advocate socialism.
4. Laudato Si does not support population control.
5. Laudato Si does not support abortion.
6. Laudato Si does not support contraception.
7. Laudato Si does not support a global tyranny of nutty “greenies” who would take away all our freedoms.
8. Laudato Si does not support doing away with private property.
9. Laudato Si does not recommend specific legislation or reforms.
Here are 14 things Laudato Si does say.
1. Laudato Si recommends support for forming small businesses on a global scale.
2. Laudato Si directly links disregard for the environment with the cheapening of human life caused by abortion, saying that when human life becomes conditional, nothing else is protected either.
3. Laudato Si specifically condemns the idea that population control is the way to “save the environment.”
4. Laudato Si specifically condemns business practices which ignore human rights and encourage human trafficking, drug trafficking, disruption of populations, seizure of individual’s property and wars for profit. It also condemns embryonic stem cell research and attempting to destroy the complimentarity between men and women.
5. Laudato Si calls for respect for local cultures and economic reforms which take the common good and human life into consideration.
6. Laudato Si says that all of life is interrelated and that human beings, as stewards of the earth have a grave responsibility to care for it.
7. Laudato Si condemns the out-sized consumption of goods by some parts of the world (ouch) which leads to impoverishment of people in other parts of the world. It calls us to look beyond consumerism to God to fill the emptiness of our lives.
8. Laudato Si says that access to life-giving water is a human right.
9. Laudato Si says that technology, if we use it incorrectly, can isolate and divide us.
10. Laudato Si condemns keeping poor people under a load of debt that makes it impossible for them to build lives for themselves.
11. Laudato Si exhorts us to develop solutions for housing crises which leave so many people homeless.
12. Laudato Si emphasizes the kinship and value of every living being. It also condemns extreme animal rights advocates who place greater value on animal life than human life and who would create a false tyranny with their ideologies.
13. Laudato Si calls for reforms of corruption in our financial systems.
14. Laudato Si says that the evidence for global warming comes from reputable scientific sources.