Made for Love notes on pope francis's encyclical on climate change & inequality

Notice how this French climate protest includes a placard invoking Joan of Arc. Greta Thunberg's visage replaces this engraving of Joan from 1903 by Albert Lynch. I'm unsure which came first, this moment or Margaret Atwood's comparison, but Thunberg continues to display youthful bravery and spirit in her advocacy for the planet. Greta and Pope Francis share a vision to alter our relationship to one another and to the planet for the sake of healing:

Pope Francis thinks we can respond best to Greta's prophetic voice if we remember that we are "made for love." Since to love is our true vocation, he thinks we can respond to the world and one another from that place and thereby learn to care more radically for our common home.

"For all our limitations, gestures of generosity, solidarity, and care cannot help well up within us, since we are made for love." (Laudato si, par. 58)
Francis's Focus is On "Care" for Our Common Home
"Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening in the world into our own personal suffering, and thus to discover what each of us can do about it." (Laudato Si, par. 19)
Dare to turn to the world and become "painfully aware" of the situation we are all facing. To become aware in this way is to engage our capacity to know, to behold, to contemplate, and to suffer with the situation of others, including the "other" that Francis calls "creation." If one looks at some linguistic variations in translation, the phrase "painfully aware" resonates with knowledge, consciousness, conscience, as these are connected to pain and suffering. Dare to turn...
"To love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it." (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, par. 7)

During his pontificate, that is, during his time as Pope (2013-Present), Francis has critiqued contemporary post-industrial society by stating we are plagued by a "culture of indifference." (Now, we will have occasion to mention what Saint Ignatius of Loyola meant by indifference in his context. Let us register that the two meanings of "indifference" are distinct. The former is marked by an inability to turn "what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering," and is thus characterized by a turning away. Ignatius's practice is one of emptying out our own desires to become ever more attentive to what God is speaking into the suffering heart so that we may dare to turn.). He contrasts the culture of indifference to a culture of encounter. When we take the time to encounter our neighbors with genuine attention, that natural generosity and care wells up within us, and the love for which we are made is extended to those neighbors. We feel this need for encounter acutely today during the COVID-19 lockdown. Listen to the moving words on encounter from Rev. Phil Jackson on Palm Sunday (April 5, 2020) that highlights how much we miss being with each other in true encounter, despite our availability online:

Francis tells us that the indifference is manifest in being unwilling to act in ways that are attentive to the needs of the world. "Frequently no measures are taken," to address detrimental environmental conditions, "until after people's health has been irreversibly affected." (Laudato Si, par. 21)
Now it is worldwide practice to don a protective mask, if one is available.

When I travelled along with others from Scranton to El Salvador to grow in solidarity with the people of El Salvador through CRISPAZ, I had the privilege of being hosted by an interpreter who schooled me in the ways of environmental degradation in the region. (He and his family now run an organic farm in Vermont called Ananda Gardens, which they began as a consequence of his convictions about the intimate connection between soil health and the health of society.). One matter to which Patrick opened my eyes was the role toxins in farming have in tropical environments. Instead of pristine waters, fed and filtered by tropical vegetation, modern industrial farming not only frequently stripped the land to create cattle farms, but also utilized manufactured and licensed seeds requiring pesticides to flourish. The seed companies corner the market on seeds, "own" any crops fertilized by those seeds, and amass harmful amounts of pesticides to cultivate crops. (A student from Pitt explains some of these matters.) We have yet to address the economic injustice here, but if we focus simply on what "runs off" into the waters, we can understand why places like El Salvador have high rates of renal failure in their population (especially children), because their water is poisoned. Here is a link to the science behind increased disease rates in tropical regions, with a focus on kidney injury, lest you think the phenomenon is isolated:

We are only now willing to listen to the experts who have been connecting environmental degradation to the rise in infectious disease outbreaks around the world. That is because COVID-19 is knocking at all our doors and we are now directly experiencing the suffering we have otherwise been willing to ignore.

The video above is part of a larger presentation of data showing that water degradation and shortage is driving migration and contributing to the worldwide migration and refugee crisis. (What does the fight for water have to do with migration in Central America?) For further evidence gathered from around the world, view these films (both are available on Disney+):

Here we have an aerial view of the Okavango Delta, located mostly in Botswana, Africa.
Flight over an estuary of Okavango
An elephant bathing in the waters of Okavango
Venturing into the Okavango
Endangered species
Okavango Delta Threatened by Burning, Deforestation, and Human Conflict (abandoned tanks and long-dormant landmines)
"Because all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another." (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, par. 42)

Today that interdependency is evident to us in the plight of our coral reefs.

Perhaps films like Finding Nemo are some of the more effective means of raising our consciousness about the relationship between our behaviors and the conditions of all other creatures with whom we share this common home.

"To love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. To take a stand for the common good is on the one hand to be solicitous for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the pólis, or “city”. The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practise this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis. This is the institutional path — we might also call it the political path — of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly, outside the institutional mediation of the pólis. When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have. Like all commitment to justice, it has a place within the testimony of divine charity that paves the way for eternity through temporal action. Man's earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family. In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations, in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God." (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, par. 7)

Let us work together to be more mindful of how we love this common home.
Created By
Cyrus Olsen


Created with images by Radu Stanescu - "Climate change march - September 2019" • Radu Stanescu - "Climate change march - September 2019" • Tim Mossholder - "Colorful Hands 3 of 3" • Nikola Jovanovic - "untitled image" • Sandy Kumar - "Mother’s Love" • Dustan Woodhouse - "Take a walk a few KM’s from your next resort, here is what the beaches of the world really look like these days." • Nina Strehl - "This is Max wearing a cap from LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR. The label is a social label from Switzerland that wants to spread lots of world changing love! 12% of their sales goes to homeless and the crew around founder David Togni are always busy loving on people in their world. Have a look att their website loveyourneighbour.ch" • Fabio Santaniello Bruun - "Floating sandwich in Istambul" • Holger Link - "Puxi" • Free To Use Sounds - "Face protection coronavirus in Hong Kong! If you're new to my Unsplash account and you're curious about how we can travel around the world and record sounds full-time, just follow us here on Instagram @freetousesounds because we love to talk about it and share our journey! If you are going to use this photo and you like to say thank you, I'm the founder of one of the largest sound libraries in the world. Feel free to check it out and buy one of my sound libraries at www.freetousesounds.com. Thank you!" • Oliver Sjöström - "untitled image" • USGS - "Like a watercolor in which a brushstroke of dark green has bled into a damp spot on the paper, southern Africa's Okavango River spreads across the pale, parched landscape of northern Botswana to become the lush Okavango Delta. The delta forms where the river empties into a basin in the Kalahari Desert, creating a maze of lagoons, channels, and islands where vegetation flourishes, even in the dry season, and wildlife abounds." • Amaryllis Liampoti - "Our flying friend was guiding our mokoro to a remote island. He left us there and shortly after was gone to new adventures." • Felix M. Dorn - "untitled image" • Mona - "With mokoro in the Okavango Delta in Botswana on holiday. Travelling in summer during dry season." • Mark Dumbleton - "Southern Carmine Bee-Eater" • vadim_petrakov - "Okavango delta (Okavango Grassland) is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa (view from the airplane) - Botswana, South-Western Africa" • sirisakboakaew - "Three elephants." • Francesco Ungaro - "untitled image" • Boxed Water Is Better - "untitled image"