Laudato Si': bringing the "whole human family together"

On the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, these daily meditations end with Pope Francis's desire for unity

It is my hope that this Encyclical Letter, which is now added to the body of the Church’s social teaching, can help us to acknowledge the appeal, immensity and urgency of the challenge we face. Laudato Si', 15

There are two reasons why the closing of these daily reflections on Laudato Si’ takes place on the closing of the Feast of SS Peter and Paul.

First, we should be mindful always of the wisdom and examples that come from the foundations of our faith—from the real people who sought to understand in their age how faith in the Risen Christ was to be lived. At the same time we must see in our present age what will carry us—and the Gospel—into the times to come.

Revelation is like a ship's bow, a constant that slips through history, illuminating and elevating human and cosmic affairs as it travels onward. Benedict XVI brought this awareness into his priestly and academic life, through his work with the Second Vatican Council, into his pontificate, and thus into the life of the Church today. It’s a long story, but it’s enough to say that Benedict XVI stressed this historical quality of revelation because he studied the great Franciscan Bonaventure.

His is another long story, but it is enough to say that as the Master General of a fractured Franciscan Order, St. Bonaventure worked tirelessly to bridge divisions and keep his flock breathing the air of orthodoxy.

Pope Francis is doing the same. He took the reigns of a Church long divided by worldly ideologies and he seeks unity. Laudato Si’, which many still refer to as a “climate change” encyclical, is of course more than a strict look at the natural environment. Many have called our attention to its wider hermeneutic of life, human dignity, and salvation history. Many have written about its foundation in papal thought. Many have cheered its care for the poor. And many others have said much more about this most authoritative social encyclical.

Listen to Pope Francis often enough and you will hear a voice seeking unity—as did his predecessors, as did St. Bonaventure, and as did SS Peter and Paul.

Let me close these reflections by offering that Laudato Si’ is what some say it is not: a call to unity within the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

The encyclical speaks with one voice about issues typically held by those with opposing ideologies; it calls for dialog, for sharing ideas among and within academic disciplines, Catholic spiritualities, Christian confessions, all faiths, and all people of goodwill; it holds up our shared, sullied globe as a warning of what happens when we don’t play well with each other or when we ignore the natural order; and it is a call for us all to work together and clean things up.

Listen to Pope Francis often enough and you will hear a voice seeking unity—as did his predecessors, as did St. Bonaventure, and as did SS Peter and Paul, even when they disagreed. These great saints—as do all saints—share the goal of building up the Church even as they tarry in times of discord and different ideas of discipleship. Somehow, of course, Christ makes it all work in the end.

I’ll close with two passages, one from a letter of St. Peter and the other from St. Paul. Both offer us a closing for these daily posts that is really more of a pause than an ending. Because after some rest—especially here in the states with the Fourth of July—important posts will follow. You'll want to pay special attention to two coming guest posts on some of the theological underpinnings of Pope Francis's community-building encyclical.

And so as always, stay tuned for much, much more. But for now, a blessed Feast of SS Peter and Paul.

Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:8-9

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who are laboring among you and who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you, and to show esteem for them with special love on account of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. We urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all. See that no one returns evil for evil; rather, always seek what is good [both] for each other and for all.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

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Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.