The encyclicals of Pope Francis, from faith to social friendship, passing through integral ecology

by | Jun 17, 2022 | Blog, News and Updates | 0 comments

This spiritual contribution includes an evocative reading of the three encyclicals of Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti, commented from the perspective of integral ecology. There will be no literal quotations but rather, taking the ideas, current echoes are presented from the objectives of the Laudato Si’ Movement. We always encourage reading directly from the Pope, of course. 

Laudato Si’ and Fratelli Tutti are the basis of our commitment as a movement. That is why we will expand further on the encyclical before them, on faith, so that our postulates are also worthily rooted in the believing reflections that Pope Francis shared with his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. 

Lumen fidei, The Light of Faith, is an encyclical based on an early text of the Pope Emeritus (explained in point 7) and written in June 2013, the initial year of Francis’ Pontificate.  

Brief Reflections on Laudato Si’ (2015) 

  • Prophetic, the main and necessary intuition is that the poor and nature suffer from a single problem with common causes. 
  • It points out the causes of the imbalances and proposes solutions from the Gospel. It represents a before and after in the Social Doctrine of the Church. 
  • Concepts to deepen appear, such as integral ecology, the technocratic paradigm or ecological sin. 
  • It invites to an ecological conversion and calls believers for a global transformation of the world together with all people of good will. 

Brief reflections of Fratelli Tutti (2020) 

  • Fraternity and social friendship are necessary, in an already globalized vision of the world, without excluding anyone. 
  • Like St. Francis of Assisi, not only to love nature, but also to love our fellow men and women. 
  • Rights, duties and dignity equal every human being. Achieving them gives us a common project for humanity. 
  • The Good Samaritan as a parable for our presence in the world. Love opens frontiers, overcomes fears and differences. It also materializes in good policies for the common good. 
  • A new culture based on open dialogue with everyone, which also involves forgiveness and reconciliation, is the task of all religions and the commitment of every Catholic.

Reflections on Lumen fidei (2013)

It is an encyclical on faith, as already stated in the subtitle. It consists of 60 articles divided into 4 chapters that reflect on “Believing and loving”; “Believing and understanding”; “Believing and transmitting”; and “God prepares a city for all”. 

Ecological conversion, the common good, which we Christians seek, is part of our faith. Faith is light, it illuminates the lived, the reality. Whoever believes, sees. Jesus is the light that illuminates a history in darkness, including death. It is interesting to see the change brought about by the Church in its first centuries, which invited us to move from the pagan cult of the sun to the cult of belief in Jesus. This has a parallel with certain environments of today, neo-pagan and perhaps pantheistic, and brings us fully into the proposal of this encyclical about our protagonism in these times. 

The light is Someone. St. Justin said in times of persecution, “no one gives his life for the sun,” but many already gave it for Christ. We can thus place ourselves before the climatic and environmental challenge, as believers in Jesus, who brings light to this moment of crisis of our humanity in the 21st century, as Someone who does have salvation and with whom to be fully involved.

In modernity, however, faith was associated with obscurantism, with fear of the search for truth. Reason alone was used as a light to find reality. Perhaps today we are paying for this separation of faith-reason-light in our global crisis and perhaps Christians have an ever new word of life to bring to our tired and frustrated societies. 

Faith opens us to the future, to the relationship with the Creator of all, to place us in his will and his intention for this world degraded by our selfishness. Faith allows us to be able to understand our role in creation in the new circumstances, God’s task for human beings. Faith opens our horizons anew and calls us to communion, also with other living beings and the world.

The synodal perspective that we live today is included in the memory of the origin of our faith. To be ready to leave the known and to trust in the divine promise, like Abraham, will open in our century also the necessary new paths of ecological and social restoration. Abraham’s faith obtained descendants, our faith today will also generate abundant life for the planet, and will surely be tested and purified by the sacrifices we will have to make. 

Faith becomes a people, in Israel, it becomes history saved by God. As it is our turn to live, these times call us to be a community, to see his promises fulfilled in Christ and to live them in a new way, to unite with many others, to unmask consumerist and commercial idols that bring suffering and falsehood, to be mediators, like Moses, between the victims of imbalances and the Good News that gives them salvation and healing. Christ, who gives his life for 

all, invites us to be creators of life by giving our life generously, wherever today the cross is hardest on the poor and the environment. So many environmental martyrs of this century remind us of this. 

Faith makes us new creatures, it makes us recognize that everything is received, that we are not owners of anything, we are given and entrusted with the gift to others. Christ lives in me and lives in his Church, he includes me in the saved people who mediate for the salvation of the world, therefore our faith also leads us to save the means of life of all, the common home.  

We are asked today to continue believing and offering the truth of Christ, because our world seems to accept only technological truth, based on scientific reason. To move away from totalitarianism and relativism in a vision of the world, of the common home, that includes the perspective from God, that can include in the discourses love, giving life for one another, seeking together the life of all, leaving no one excluded. To see and hear the cry of God in the poor, in exterminated nature, is our most biblical experience of faith today. 

As the first Hebrew Christians encountered the Greek-Latin world and later the Germanic world, we too today are sent to dialogue with the culture of our time, to bring the leaven of Christ and make the Kingdom germinate in it, together with all people of good will, in the midst of the suffering of so many. This is where our efforts as LSM are situated, to be in all the areopagus where the future of the planet is discussed, in the global forums and also in our families and in our work. We do not have hidden solutions, but together with many others, with the light of our faith, we must find the paths that bring balance to the planet. 

Precious image, we can resemble the simple shepherds of Bethlehem, who together with the wise men (our people of science and technology), approach in amazement the incarnate, vulnerable and loving God, to kneel together and worship him, returning later to our homes with his light to enlighten the nations.

Our commitment as part of LSM is also within the Church. Our faith is a relationship with brothers and sisters, with concrete languages, protected by the maternal love for one another (our Mother the Church), becoming a body and knowing that we are inhabited by the Holy Spirit. 

At this moment in history we have been called together, each one of us with our environmental sensitivity, through the Church, not as mere environmentalist groups but as brothers and sisters concerned about the Common Home, the divine inheritance for all. It is part of the living tradition of the Church that today, following our Pope Francis, we are taking steps forward and promoting new areas of ecological conversion. 

In the Catholic faith we can live our social and environmental commitment in every sacrament: in the new life received in baptism, in the communion with people and the cosmos of every Eucharist, in the path of reconciliation and correction of our lifestyle, in the commitment of incarnated and fruitful love as a couple or as a celibate, in docility to the Spirit and in the hopeful and trusting surrender to the Creator until the end of our days. There is nothing Christian that cannot be lived in our search for the common good; what is lived in environmental commitment can have a sacramental expression. 

Faith makes us respect nature (LF 55), because God speaks to us in it and because he gives it to us as a task to be preserved. Faith leads us to seek just forms of government that do not degrade the world and serve the good of all. Without faith, there grows the fear and distrust that are so sadly present in our societies. Faith illuminates life in society because it puts everything in relation to its origin and destiny, because it pushes us to a new creativity. 

And faith helps us to live in suffering, as so many people testify! Even the victims of environmental injustice. Faith helps us to find meaning in suffering, helps us to bear it and brings us closer to those who suffer all over the world: no one is indifferent to us. 

Blessed are those who believe as Mary of Nazareth did: we believe that God’s promises will be fulfilled and, like her, in these difficult times, we must allow ourselves to be made fruitful by him, accept his plans for us and say yes to him every day.

Say yes and join us: become a volunteer! 

Pedro Jiménez
Pedro Jiménez

Pedro Jiménez is a Spiritual Consultant for Laudato Si’ Movement. He is a priest and biologist from Navarre, a member of the Adsis communities, called to be a Christian and an environmentalist since his childhood. He has lived in Latin America, Italy and Spain, passionately exercising his commitment to the Kingdom of God with young people, the poor and the environment.

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