United by the same concern [7-9]




I have begun to publish sections and segments of the Popes letter on OUR network of blogs as well as on Linkedin & Quora & Newsvine and will add my comments over time. Papa Francisco's 180 page letter is much less about religion than it is about nature and the planet earth. He proposes some fairly radical yet simple and understandable solutions for humankind. It is way past time to start paying attention to what we are all doing or allowing others to do.

7. These statements of the Popes echo the
reflections of numerous scientists, philosophers,
theologians and civic groups, all of which
have enriched the Church’s thinking on these
questions. Outside the Catholic Church, other
Churches and Christian communities – and other
religions as well – have expressed deep concern
and offered valuable reflections on issues
which all of us find disturbing. To give just one
striking example, I would mention the statements
made by the beloved Ecumenical Patriarch Bar-
tholomew, with whom we share the hope of full
ecclesial communion.

12 Address to the Bundestag, Berlin (22 September 2011):
AAS 103 (2011), 664.
13 Address to the Clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone
(6 August 2008): AAS 100 (2008), 634.

8. Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular
of the need for each of us to repent of the
ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch
as we all generate small ecological damage”, we
are called to acknowledge “our contribution,
smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction
of creation”.14 He has repeatedly stated
this firmly and persuasively, challenging us to
acknowledge our sins against creation: “For human
beings… to destroy the biological diversity
of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade
the integrity of the earth by causing changes in
its climate, by stripping the earth of its natural
forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings
to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its
air, and its life – these are sins”.15 For “to commit
a crime against the natural world is a sin against
ourselves and a sin against God”.16

9. At the same time, Bartholomew has drawn
attention to the ethical and spiritual roots of
environmental problems, which require that we
look for solutions not only in technology but in
a change of humanity; otherwise we would be
dealing merely with symptoms. He asks us to
replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with
generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing,

an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and
not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of
moving gradually away from what I want to what
God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear,
greed and compulsion”.17 As Christians, we are
also called “to accept the world as a sacrament of
communion, as a way of sharing with God and
our neighbours on a global scale. It is our humble
conviction that the divine and the human meet
in the slightest detail in the seamless garment of
God’s creation, in the last speck of dust of our
planet”.18

14 Message for the Day of Prayer for the Protection of Creation (1
September 2012).
15 Address in Santa Barbara, California (8 November 1997);
cf. John Chryssavgis, On Earth as in Heaven: Ecological Vision and
Initiatives of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Bronx, New York,
2012.
16 Ibid.
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