Thursday, June 18, 2015

Canticle of the Sun

Laudato Si (“Praise be to You, O my Lord!”)
St. Francis of Assisi - Anglican version

Yes, be praised in all your creatures
brother sun and sister moon
in the stars and in the wind,
air and fire and flowing water.

For our sister mother earth,
She who feeds us and sustains us;
For her fruits, her grass, her flowersfor the mountains and the oceans

Praise for those who spread forgiveness,
Those who share your peace with others,
Bearing trials and sickness bravely!
Even sister death won’t harm them.

For our life is but a song,
And the reason for our singing
Is to praise you for the music;
Join the dance of Your creation.

Praise to You, Father Most Holy,
Praise and thanks to You, Lord Jesus,
Praise to You, Most Holy Spirit

The encyclical released by the Vatican today (hosted on GCI's site) appears on the heels of a leaked draft of this position by the Church a few days ago. It's led to speculation that Francis’ remarks on it will not only say climate change is real and caused by humans, but will explain how that happens according to the vast majority of scientists. Which of course is a stunning change of direction for this institution, but it highlights the critical nature of the planetary crisis that we're heading into. The Church also embraces the idea that people of faith and people of science can complement one another.

Upon its release today, the New York Times has signaled it as a call for swift action on climate change from an increasingly popular world religious leader. The encyclical is seen as an unsubtle nudge for action, even as it provides support for leaders faced with tough choices in countries with large numbers of Catholics. It goes on to outline an analysis of key portions of its statements in an interactive online format.

The Vatican has done significant outreach with climate researchers and other governments in order to forge a strongly collaborative position and frame it within the broad parameters of Catholic theology. A very large tent, in other words, which creates a space within which the moral parameters of addressing climate change can be done by people all over the world.

Update 6/19/15: This encyclical will trigger a long over-due “global conversation of, how do we even define prosperity? Is it just accumulating more dollars or do we have to factor in being accountable for our impact on the planet and all people that live on it?”

Update 6/20/15:  Pope Francis attempted to start a global conversation yesterday with his new encyclical on the environment. Unlike most encyclicals, it was addressed not to Catholics, but to "every person living on this planet", and embraces science as part of its policy.

Update 6/30/15: Responses to the encyclical
Aubrey Meyer: Degrowth to avoid extreme damages
David Suzuki: Shift away from growth model
Herman Daly: New Theology of Creation is degrowth 

Update 7/13/15:  In one sense, Laudato si is a critique of 21st century capitalism and as a consequence also of the philosophical underpinnings of the industrial revolution.
After the encyclical, lessons for climate activism?

In thinking we were ensuring our survival, we created the conditions for our own destruction, as is now obvious in the actuality of climate change and of unsustainable production and consumption.

The ethical conundrum, from Don Brown (Oct. 3, 2015):
Ethics and Climate

And so, for 30 years, the opponents of climate change policies have succeeded in framing the climate debate in a way that ignores obvious ethical and moral problems,  Surprisingly both environmental organizations and the US press have failed to bring attention to the obvious moral problems with the arguments made by opponents of US climate change policies

Update 4/13/16:  "We have created a ‘throwaway’ culture which is now spreading.” Pope Francis 2013 Evangelii gaudium