You are on page 1of 9

Ellsworth 1

Kaitlyn Ellsworth

Dr. Martino

SRT 270 01

08 November 2017

Analysis on Pope Francis’s Encyclical Letter, On Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si’)

The Roman Catholic religion is one that I follow and am proud to be a part of. I attend

mass every Sunday and follow the teachings of the Bible, but I strive to do more than the basic

requirements as a Catholic. Whether a person is Catholic or not, there are certain characteristics

of the religion that can be followed to be a good person, and I try to reflect these values in my

life, hoping that they have a positive influence on those that I encounter. When it comes to the

environment and my faith, I know that the Earth is something that needs to be cared for based on

the principle of Catholic Social Teaching, care for God’s creation, and text in the Bible. I

personally believe that this Earth was created by God, and that is why one must care for the land

itself, as well as the people on the Earth, since they were also created by God (Catholic

Charities). Although I believe this, it is something that I could personally practice more. I do the

bare minimum that I possibly could for the environment, such as recycling, and realize that there

is more that I could do to care for the environment.

When dealing with the environment, there can be a strong contradiction between the

beliefs of science and religion. Before reading this section of the Encyclical Letter, I never

thought about their collaboration to address the crisis. As the letter states, “we need to realize the

solution will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality” (Pope

Francis, p. 30). With the ecological crisis and this text, I was able to make a connection to Pope

Francis’ view on evangelization. Through evangelization, Pope Francis believes that no one is
Ellsworth 2

perfect, and whether one is Catholic or not, we can spread the good news of the gospel and its

beliefs (Martino). As a pope, Pope Francis has a unique style to him that has not really been seen

in Catholicism before, and I feel like because of this, the religion is taking a step in a positive

direction. Pope Francis’s evangelization can be seen throughout the Encyclical Letter. Whether a

person sides with science or religion, the ecological crisis is something that has an effect on all

humans. Instead of dividing, the two can come together to work together to make strides because

“respect must also be shown for the various cultural riches of different peoples, their art and

poetry, their interior life and spirituality” (Pope Francis, p. 30). Before Vatican II, the church

might have had different opinions, but now Catholics are accepting to everyone, just as they are

to science. To see a positive change, science and religion can come together over a common

interest in caring for the environment.

While building upon what I have learned in this class, taking a second look at Genesis 1

and 2 gave me a unique outlook on what is best for the environment. In paragraph 65, the

Encyclical describes how everyone is made in the image and likeliness of God (Pope Francis, p.

32). God created the stars, the grass, and the sky with the same vision that he created humans.

Everyone on this Earth was made with the same vision that Adam and Eve were created in, who

were the two humans with the story of sin (Genesis 2: 4-18). Sometimes as humans, we feel as if

we have this superiority factor over everything else that was created in the world. I believe that

God created the Earth, but this idea can be expanded upon. I never though about how the

environment was also created through the eyes of God, just like people. When God created the

environment, he was looking through the same lens as he was when creating humans. This made

me realize that, as humans, we need to treat the environment like this. By treating the
Ellsworth 3

environment with equal respect, we can build a relationship with the environment that helps

preserve its land.

In addition, reading the Encyclical Letter gave me a different viewpoint on Jesus’

incarnation and today’s ecological challenges. The reference to unhealthy dualism refers to two

items. On one hand, there is the idea of mind and spirit, and body, ideas that we cannot

physically see, but we know are there. On the contrary, there are also physical objects, like

humans and land. Jesus is unique because he is a person with a body, but he also is God-like.

Although mind, spirit, and body are different, Jesus loved and cared about both, saying that “he

often stopped to contemplate the beauty sown by his Father, and invited his disciples to perceive

a divine message in things” and “Jesus lived in full harmony with creation” (Pope Francis, p.

47). If Jesus can see these two ideas as one rather than a dualism, then why can’t we? Science

and religion might be different, but in times of crisis, it is crucial that the two work together for

what is best for the people and the land.

When reading paragraphs 89-92, it was interesting to read about a connection I made

earlier in the paper about how both humans and the environment were created in the same eyes

of God. By reading this section, I saw how the environment and humans themselves are two

different types of communities. Being a Catholic community is a key characteristic in the faith

(Martino). Thinking in a different perspective, all humans make up a different type of

community: a community of people. Similarly, plants, trees, and flowers make up an

environmental community. It is so hard to compare these different types of communities since

they are so different. Although it can be challenging to see the same type of levelness between

the communities, we can think of everything on the Earth as one community itself. When we

think of positive and negative actions, one may only think of them revolving humans, but if we
Ellsworth 4

are a universal community, we should think of them as one. One would not kill their neighbor, so

we should not kill the environment.

In today’s world, technology is prominent in every aspect of our lives. People rely on

technology for pretty much everything, which could hinder the ability to create a balanced

approach with the environment. This specific feature in the technocratic paradigm “has become

countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology”

(Pope Francis, p. 53). People are so accustomed to this lifestyle, that it would become difficult to

live a life without some technology (Pope Francis, 52). It did not occur to me how we rely so

much on technology rather than the environment itself, and because of this, people think we will

never run out of resources. If we just continually use our environment’s resources, we will run

out. As people, we can rely on both technology and the environment, and use them hand-in-hand

to make a positive impact on the world. We cannot only rely on technology to make a difference

in the environment. A person’s contribution to clean the environment can make even more of an

impact.

Truly, it is amazing to see the technological advances that have been made in our world

over the past several years. Technology has helped the Earth make many advances in different

fields, but one cannot rely just on technology. Although some of the paragraphs in this section

were eye-opening on how much people rely on technology, Pope Francis gives practical advice

on the topic, and that people can live a happy and successful life without the overuse of

technology. Hence, people do not need technology to live a fulfilling life. When God created

people, he created everyone in the image and likeness of God (Martino). Through this, all

humans were created to be unique and different, but despite these differences, all humans are

equal. Although the overuse of technology might be seen as a negative, because of imago Dei,
Ellsworth 5

people see the good in everything (Martino). By reading the Encyclical Letter, I am getting the

opinion that humans think they are superior to everything, and yes, it is hard to compare the life

of humans to other living objects. However, we were all created through God’s eyes, who sees

the good in everything. This gift is something that we possess as humans, it just needs to be

found. We can take this gift to care for the environment because it is something all humans are

capable of doing.

Plus, Pope Francis made a unique connection between consumerism and technology.

With consumerism people are led “to believe that they are free as long as they have the supposed

freedom to consume” (Pope Francis, p. 99). However, an issue in today’s society is that we want

to consume more than we are able too. When people feel empty, they want to fill the void with

materialistic items. This can clearly be seen in today’s age. Many people constantly want the

latest outfits, cars, and houses based off of what we see on social media and in pop culture.

Through caring for others and the environment, we can make the world a better place and feel

good in our hearts because “we are always capable of going out of ourselves toward the other”

(Pop Francis, p. 101). The environment is worthy of being appreciated, respected, and cared for

by humans. Consumerism is something that can get in the way of this. When one is too

concerned with what materialistic object they have or do not have, they can easily forget what is

important. As humans, we know that “no system can completely suppress our openness to what

is good, true and beautiful, or our God-given ability to respond to his grace at work deep in our

hearts” (Francis, 100). Personally, I find this to serve as a top precedence with this issue. It is

important to never forget what we as humans are capable of doing to change the world in a

positive way.
Ellsworth 6

When it comes to being more ecologically sensitive, Pope Francis pays much attention to

the habit or virtue that surrounds the topic. I feel blessed to live in the country that I live in

because we have access to food, water, and land, but I realize that other places are not as

fortunate as America is. It is great that people are truly concerned for countries that are not as

fortunate and want to make a difference in those places. It proves that people truly care about

others and how big their hearts truly are. The smallest acts, such as turning off the sink when you

brush your teeth, can make a difference in the environment. It is imperative that people are

learning the necessary information to live lives that are more ecologically sensitive. By doing

this, “[these actions] can enable us to live more fully and to feel that life on earth is worthwhile”

(Pope Francis, p. 103). By realizing this, people might feel more connected to the environment,

which is a place of goodness and beauty in the world (Pope Francis, p. 104). The environment is

something that everyone can care of, regardless of religious beliefs.

Throughout the Encyclical Letter, Pope Francis gives suggestions on how humans have

potential for an ecological conversion. An ecological conversion can be defined as when “the

effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world

around them” (Pope Francis, p. 105). When one calls themselves a Christian, specifically

Catholic, it is a priority in life to live a life like God. When Catholics are living a God-like life,

those characteristics include the environment. It is important that Catholics treat the world like

this to build a community amongst us. The Encyclical states that “we do not look at the world

from without but from within, conscious of the bonds with which the Father has linked us to all

beings” (Pope Francis, p. 107). In addition, this conversion can allow people to use their

individual gifts to play a role in solving problems within the environment. A connection to the

world can help Catholics recognize their sins, and use this to change in a positive way. Clearly,
Ellsworth 7

Pope Francis sees positive potential through ecological conversion and the impact it can leave on

the world.

After reading about consumerism, habit, and conversion, a connection can be made to

how humans are in process. When humans are in process, they are growing as people through the

grace of God (Martino). Through consumerism, people have the ability to leave materialistic

objects on the backburner. That section in the Encyclical makes a specific connection to how

people will always know how to work through God’s grace. This is one example on how human

beings are in process. In addition, being educated about the environment can help people be in

process. The acts they take to help the environment, no matter how big or small, involve living in

God’s grace because they are taking the time to care for God’s creation. Finally, the conversion

has different components to it that allow humans to be in process. Being connected to the world

and the conversion can allow people to use their relationship with Jesus to positively to help the

world. Each individual experience with Christ is so unique to that person, and what they get out

of it varies, so what they contribute to the world through their relationship with Jesus Christ can

impact the world in a way no one else can. It is important to remember that only Jesus truly

knows what is in one’s heart and soul. As one is in process, their life is constantly evolving, and

God knows their intentions.

Hence, there are connections made to the Encyclical Letter and this course. One of the

biggest connections I made was the sense of community between people and the environment. A

community can be described as “a group of people, or a cluster of peoples, with a particular

history” (Martino). Catholics have a sense of community, and separately, humans as a whole

have a sense of community. After reading the Encyclical Letter, the sense of community can be

even broader than a group of people. Humans, animals, nature, and the environment were all
Ellsworth 8

created through God. When God created all of this, he created them with the same amount of

love and care. As humans, we have a sense of superiority in this world. Because if this, I feel like

it is our job to foster this sense of community as one. We can play such a crucial role in caring

for God’s creation and preserve it for generations to come.

Although I am Catholic, there are many unique take-aways that I got from the Encyclical

Letter. I have always understood how important the environment was to this religious tradition,

but feel as though I have never used it for spiritual purposes. Being raised in the time period that

I was, whenever I am in nature and see a remarkable sight, my first thought is to take out my

phone to take a picture and post it somewhere. Personally, I consider myself to be a religious

person, so next time I am in this situation, yes, I can take out my phone to remember the beauty

of nature, but also take the time to appreciate it and reflect as well. I always understood how the

Earth is created by God, and I can use the environment as a place to grow as a person and

spiritually with my relationship with God.


Ellsworth 9

Works Cited

Francis, Pope. Encyclical Letter, On Care for Our Common Home Laudato Si’. 2015.

Martino, Daniel. “Lecture Series Outline 1.” Greensburg, Seton Hill University.

“Principles of Catholic Social Teaching.” Catholic Charities,

http://catholiccharitiescamden.org/principles-of-catholic-social-teaching/

The Bible. Genesis 2: 4-18.