V. A universal communion [89-92]

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.

89. The created things of this world are not
free of ownership: “For they are yours, O Lord,
who love the living” (Wis 11:26). This is the basis
of our conviction that, as part of the universe,
called into being by one Father, all of us are
linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind

64 Canticle of the Creatures, in Francis of Assisi: Early Documents
, New York-London-Manila, 1999, 113-114.
65 Cf. National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil,
A Igreja e a Questão Ecológica, 1992, 53-54.
66 Ibid., 61.

of universal family, a sublime communion which
fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble
respect. Here I would reiterate that “God has
joined us so closely to the world around us that
we can feel the desertification of the soil almost
as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species
as a painful disfigurement”.67

90. This is not to put all living beings on the
same level nor to deprive human beings of their
unique worth and the tremendous responsibility
it entails. Nor does it imply a divinization of
the earth which would prevent us from working
on it and protecting it in its fragility. Such
notions would end up creating new imbalances
which would deflect us from the reality which
challenges us.68 At times we see an obsession
with denying any pre-eminence to the human
person; more zeal is shown in protecting other
species than in defending the dignity which all
human beings share in equal measure. Certainly,
we should be concerned lest other living beings
be treated irresponsibly. But we should be particularly
indignant at the enormous inequalities
in our midst, whereby we continue to tolerate
some considering themselves more worthy than
others. We fail to see that some are mired in desperate
and degrading poverty, with no way out,

67 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November
2013), 215: AAS 105 (2013), 1109.
68 Cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate
(29 June 2009), 14: AAS 101 (2009), 650.

while others have not the faintest idea of what
to do with their possessions, vainly showing off
their supposed superiority and leaving behind
them so much waste which, if it were the case
everywhere, would destroy the planet. In practice,
we continue to tolerate that some consider
themselves more human than others, as if they
had been born with greater rights.

91. A sense of deep communion with the rest
of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness,
compassion and concern for our fellow
human beings. It is clearly inconsistent to combat
trafficking in endangered species while remaining
completely indifferent to human trafficking,
unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to
destroy another human being deemed unwanted.
This compromises the very meaning of our
struggle for the sake of the environment. It is no
coincidence that, in the canticle in which Saint
Francis praises God for his creatures, he goes on
to say: “Praised be you my Lord, through those
who give pardon for your love”. Everything is
connected. Concern for the environment thus
needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow
human beings and an unwavering commitment
to resolving the problems of society.
92. Moreover, when our hearts are authentically
open to universal communion, this sense of
fraternity excludes nothing and no one. It follows
that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow
creatures of this world sooner or later affects the
treatment we mete out to other human beings.
We have only one heart, and the same wretchedness
which leads us to mistreat an animal will
not be long in showing itself in our relationships
with other people. Every act of cruelty towards
any creature is “contrary to human dignity”.69 We
can hardly consider ourselves to be fully loving if
we disregard any aspect of reality: “Peace, justice
and the preservation of creation are three absolutely
interconnected themes, which cannot be
separated and treated individually without once
again falling into reductionism”.70 Everything
is related, and we human beings are united as
brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage,
woven together by the love God has for each of
his creatures and which also unites us in fond
affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother
river and mother earth.


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