I will get to actual analysis of Pope Francis’ encyclical soon, but as I said about his earlier apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, this is a document well worth reading yourself. It is long, yes. It is in a format that is foreign to almost everyone and an acquired taste for most. But it is well written and as accessible as you can get in the confines of an encyclical format. So do read it. Here’s a link. You can order paper copies from the USCCB and access other resources, if you prefer. But don’t rely on the analysts to shape your thinking, including me.
To underscore the point, here are some of the phrases that I thought were well-turned:
- “The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life.” (2)
- “Francis [St. Francis of Assisi] asked that part of the friary garden always be left untouched, so that wild flowers and herbs could grow there, and those who saw them could raise their minds to God, the Creator of such beauty. Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise.” (12)
- “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (21) I heard one talk radio host laugh when an expert referenced this, assuming that it was hyperbole from the expert. It’s a direct quote. You could look it up.
- “Our lack of response to these tragedies involving our brothers and sisters points to the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men and women upon which all civil society is founded.” (25)
- “It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential ‘resources’ to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves….Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.” (33)
- “We seem to think we can substitute an irreplaceable and irretrievable beauty with something which we have created ourselves.” (34)
- “Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another.” (42)
- “when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously…True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution.” (47)
- “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?” (57)
- “For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity and care cannot but well up within us, since we were made for love.” (58)
- “This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen.” (59)
- “Hope would have us recognize that there is always a way out, that we can always redirect our steps, that we can always do something to solve our problems.” (61)
And that’s just in Chapter 1.
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