By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Thursday addressed those gathered for the International Conference “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth”.
The event organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development marks three years since the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home.
Pope Francis’ integral ecology
Focusing his remarks on the Pope’s encyclical, Cardinal Parolin said that it has been well received, even by the scientific community, because of the Pope’s interconnected approach.
Pope Francis, he said, presents an integral ecology, proposes the “care of our common home” as an urgent priority, links human and natural ecology together which “are inseparable concerns for the human family”, and offers a “profoundly spiritual vision of the natural world, speaking of the ‘gospel’ of creation”.
Interconnected approach to ecology
Cardinal Parolin went on to explain how Pope Francis’ understanding of an interconnected ecology is rooted in Catholic doctrine. “Our relationship with God and our neighbour necessarily includes our relationship with mother Earth”, he said.
In Laudato Si’, Pope Francis observed that the violence present in the human heart because of sin is reflected in the ills that plague nature. The throwaway culture itself has led us to the point that “creation totters on the edge of catastrophe”, making it urgent “that we change our sense of human progress, the management of our economy and our lifestyle”, Cardinal Parolin said.
The Catholic understanding of creation is that God offers the world to “human beings as a gift”. The universe is “an intentional act of God”, and “humanity is not an afterthought”, but an “intrinsic part of the universe,” the Cardinal said. As such, our vocation as persons made in God’s likeness is to till and keep the earth, not dominate and devastate it, he said.
We are responsible
In conclusion, the Cardinal offered three points from Pope Francis’ Encyclical with which to guide their meeting: the need to be in relationship with God, with other human beings, and with the world; our vocation as co-creators with God; and “our responsibility for the work of God”.