Which is the impact on the faithful and the world about the publication of the first encyclical written one year and half ago by Pope Francis ? Certainly the letter “Praised yes” on the care of the common household at the time of its release has had a great media impact and over the months have followed detailed information and analyzes on all levels: academic, business, government, scientific, religious and social. Yesterday in Paris, at UNESCO headquarters, there was an interesting conference on the theme : challenge“Earth, our common homes and hope.” Organized by the association “Friends of the Holy See,” was attended, together with the UNESCO Director Irina Bokova, the Cardinal Peter A. Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, nominated by the Pope, the first Prefect of the new department for integral human development, in which, from January, will gather three other Councils.
The speech of the cardinal from Ghana was focusing on the key concept of “integral ecology”: “One of the conductor wires of the encyclical is that everything is interconnected,” he explained. And from this foundation we arrive at ” integral ecology. “Our nature – said Card. Turkson – was created by God; our failures are excessive exploitation “of resources due to consumerism and” the failure to share the gifts of creation “; thus “it is urgent to change our sense of progress, our management of the economy and our way of life. This coherent and sustainable approach to life is what we call “total ecology “which is the relationship between nature and human ecology.”
As mentioned by the Cardinal, the encyclical of Pope Francis has its roots on one side in the biblical story of Genesis, the other in the teaching of his predecessors. The temadel environment in relation to justice is touched, even if marginally, already in the “Rerum Novarum” of Leo XIII in the late nineteenth century, when the Pope says that it is necessary to have responsibility “as administrators of divine Providence, towards others.” But it is from Blessed Paul VI and then with his successors that these arguments have assumed greater importance together with the concern for progress that, dominated by “neo positivism” of “global technology”, claims to expand without limit and without any moral respect for the dignity of the person, as well as the environment. Many, in this sense, the references to the St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI teachings.
So, What is the key to reading the encyclical? Turkson, who was the closest collaborator of Francis in drafting of the “Praised be You, ‘” says that there are six key points to understand the message: “All human beings, as well as everything in nature, are affected by the climate changes; everything is interconnected; everyone should act responsibly to save our world, from the individuals who recycle and conserve energy to companies, to world leaders that they must have ambitious goals; we all have to be honest and not change the facts for selfish advantages; we must also engage in a constructive and trusting dialogue and finally we have to “transcend” ourselves in prayer. ” The integral ecology, therefore, needs “omnipresent moral dimension.”
We need a total change in approach and mentality: “Rather than relate to the environment as if it were separate from other assets and human interests, we have to see nature as an integral part of a greater whole which includes social, political, spiritual , economic, material goods and so on. ”
But it is a possible change or an utopia? Here it is essential to hope. Cardinal Turkson thinks that change is already in place, considering the results of some world leaders in recent months: the one on Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa, the agenda adopted by the United Nations, the Paris agreement on limiting global warming, who in recent days should be operational by Cop 22 taking place in Marrakech. A global awareness that should bring its benefits. “Faced with the threat of a global environmental catastrophe – concluded Turkson – I am hopeful that a light beam has already begun to break the heavy curtain of clouds ecology and offers us what Pope Francis describes as the warmth of hope”.