–Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter on Ecology,
“Laudato Si” (Praised Be)
Following is the third and final set of excerpts from Laudato Si, prepared by the Catholic Climate Covenant in Washington, DC, and published on June 18, 2015. The first segment was posted on this site on June 19; the second on June 23.
The emptier a person’s heart is, the more he or she needs things to buy, own and consume.
Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction.
Many people know that our current progress and the mere amassing of things and pleasures are not enough to give meaning and joy to the human heart, yet they feel unable to give up what the market sets before them.
Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption.
A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment.
Such sobriety, when lived freely and consciously, is liberating. It is not a lesser life or one lived with less intensity. On the contrary, it is a way of living life to the full.
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. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature.
It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology, of its costs and its power to globalize and make us all the same.
The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration. By itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.
A technological and economic development that does not leave in its wake a better world and an integrally higher quality of life cannot be considered progress.
The principle of the maximization of profits, frequently isolated from other considerations, reflects a misunderstanding of the very nature of the economy. As long as production is increased, little concern is shown about whether it is at the cost of future resources or the health of the environment; as long as the clearing of a forest increases production, no one calculates the losses entailed in the desertification of the land, the harm done to biodiversity or the increased pollution. In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved.
Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.