Session: Laudato si'

An introduction to Pope Francis' encyclical letter on care for our common home.

“Praise be to You, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. [1]


The first words of the encyclical also open up one of the central themes of the seminar held by a former student of Casa Balthasar: What does it mean to think ecologically and to live in a "common home"?

"Man is created" was the title of the second day of the conference, which leads to the words of Pope Francis: "We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us." [67], This statement is pushed even further with the words of the Genesis account which even speak of "dominion". How to understand these phrases?


This takes us right to key themes of the encyclical such as "rapidification" [18: the continued acceleration of changes affecting humanity and a more intensified pace of life and work], the culture of relativism [123: which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects...] and extreme consumerism promoted by the market. All three can be placed under the sign of the techno-economic paradigm.


"To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system." [111] Or in the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which were used for the title of the course: "Kein Lebend'ges ist ein Eins, Immer ist's ein Vieles".


The joy of the task

At the end of the course we meditated on the chapter "Civic and political love", where Pope Francis writes: "Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together and communion. Jesus reminded us that we have God as our common Father and that this makes us brothers and sisters. Fraternal love can only be gratuitous; it can never be a means of repaying others for what they have done or will do for us. That is why it is possible to love our enemies. This same gratuitousness inspires us to love and accept the wind, the sun and the clouds, even though we cannot control them. In this sense, we can speak of a ‘universal fraternity’.” [228]


The numbers in [] refer to the paragraph numbering of the encyclical.