An extract from ‘A reflection on Laudato Si’ mi Signore – On Care for our Common Home’ written by Fr. Liam O’Callaghan
Chapter Two – The Gospel of Creation (62-100)
Pope Francis begins Chapter Two by saying science and religion need to enter into “an intense dialogue fruitful for both” (62). He then outlines what Christian faith brings to this dialogue, stating that “faith convictions can offer Christians and some other believers as well, ample motivation to care for nature and for the vulnerable of their brothers and sisters” (64). He then goes on to reveal an astonishing catechesis in eco-spirituality. He begins with the biblical account of creation in the Book of Genesis which clearly shows that human life is grounded in three fundamental relationships: with God, neighbour and the earth itself. He then sets out to correct a mistaken view that the “dominion” mentioned in Gen 1:28 somehow encourages humanity to unbridled exploitation over nature: “this is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church” (67).
He then meditates on the mystery of the universe, believing it is all part of “God’s loving plan in which every creature has its own value and significance” (76). He says there is a wonderful harmony in creation, underpinned by a deep interdependence. Francis teaches us that when we are aware of this and pay “attention to this manifestation, we learn to see ourselves in relation to all creatures” (85). Francis’ profound original catechesis reflects on “ecological virtues” (88) which we simply are not used to thinking about. He says the earth is a shared inheritance and the ecological approach he proposes has to have a social dimension: “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” (91). Finally, in paragraphs 96-100, Francis offer a profound Christology based on the “gaze of Jesus”, showing him as someone who “lived in full harmony with creation” and drew it into himself in the Resurrection.
Fr. Liam is a Columban working in Pakistan.