“Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis’ encyclical on care of our common home is not only, or even mostly, about climate change. “It is about all sorts of environmental problems we have created that, collectively, are causing harm to the planet and to humans, especially the poor and future generations,” observes Father Bud Grant, a theology professor at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
Fr. Grant pored over the 100-plus pages of the encyclical released June 18, taking copious notes and was struck by the Holy Father’s focus on relationships — the relationship between human beings and God and between human beings and nature.
The priest, an environmental ethicist, quotes Pope Francis: “If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships … Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God.”
Fr. Grant especially appreciates paragraph 160 in the encyclical in which the Holy Father asks “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” Fr. Grant surmises that Pope Francis is suggesting that the question isn’t just about what the planet should look like. “More importantly, the answer speaks to us about ourselves: what do we value, what is important to us, why do we work and struggle, what gives us dignity?” the priest said.