An extract from ‘A reflection on Laudato Si’ mi Signore – On Care for our Common Home’ written by Fr. Liam O’Callaghan
Chapter Four – Integral Ecology (137-162)
The key concept in Laudato Si’ is “integral ecology” which aims to be a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis. Francis writes that “we are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature” (139). He says that a “cultural ecology” is also required as “today’s globalised economy has a levelling effect on cultures, diminishing the immense variety which is the heritage of all humanity” (144), and specifically highlights indigenous communities and their cultural traditions.
In section III, Ecology of Daily Life, Francis says that “authentic development includes efforts to bring an integral improvement in the quality of human life…especially….in the setting where people live their lives” (147). He speaks about the very difficult living conditions in mega-cities where the quality of life – because of pollution, over-crowding, poverty, bad planning – is very bad for millions of people. The Pope goes on to say that “an integral ecology is inseparable from the notion of the common good, a central and unifying principle of social ethics” (156); underpinning the principle of the common good is respect for the person, who is endowed with basic and in alienable rights. He takes it a step further when he says that in our world of so much injustice, we are summoned to “solidarity and a preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters” (158). Francis concludes this section with the challenging question “what kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?” (160). It is a loud call to action.
Fr. Liam is a Columban working in Pakistan.