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Laudato Si’ – Chapter Five: Lines of Approach and Action (Part 2)

V. Religions in dialogue with science

199. It cannot be maintained that empirical science provides a complete explanation of life, the interplay of all creatures and the whole of reality. This would be to breach the limits imposed by its own methodology. If we reason only within the confines of the latter, little room would be left for aesthetic sensibility, poetry, or even reason’s ability to grasp the ultimate meaning and purpose of things.141 I would add that “religious classics can prove meaningful in every age; they have an enduring power to open new horizons… Is it reasonable and enlightened to dismiss certain writings simply because they arose in the context of religious belief?”142 It would be quite simplistic to think that ethical principles present themselves purely in the abstract, detached from any context. Nor does the fact that they may be couched in religious language detract from their value in public debate. The ethical principles capable of being apprehended by reason can always reappear in different guise and find expression in a variety of languages, including religious language.

200. Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well. Believers themselves must constantly feel challenged to live in a way consonant with their faith and not to contradict it by their actions. They need to be encouraged to be ever open to God’s grace and to draw constantly from their deepest convictions about love, justice and peace. If a mistaken understanding of our own principles has at times led us to justify mistreating nature, to exercise tyranny over creation, to engage in war, injustice and acts of violence, we believers should acknowledge that by so doing we were not faithful to the treasures of wisdom which we have been called to protect and preserve. Cultural limitations in different eras often affected the perception of these ethical and spiritual treasures, yet by constantly returning to their sources, religions will be better equipped to respond to today’s needs.

201. The majority of people living on our planet profess to be believers. This should spur religions to dialogue among themselves for the sake of protecting nature, defending the poor, and building networks of respect and fraternity. Dialogue among the various sciences is likewise needed, since each can tend to become enclosed in its own language, while specialization leads to a certain isolation and the absolutization of its own 148 field of knowledge. This prevents us from confronting environmental problems effectively. An open and respectful dialogue is also needed between the various ecological movements, among which ideological conflicts are not infrequently encountered. The gravity of the ecological crisis demands that we all look to the common good, embarking on a path of dialogue which requires patience, self-discipline and generosity, always keeping in mind that “realities are greater than ideas”.143

126 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (14 June 1992), Principle 1.

127 Bolivian Bishops’ Conference, Pastoral Letter on the Environment and Human Development in Bolivia El universo, don de Dios para la vida (March 2012), 86.

128 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Energy, Justice and Peace, IV, 1, Vatican City (2014), 53.

129 Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 67: AAS 101 (2009).

130 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 222: AAS 105 (2013), 1111.

131 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 469.

132 Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development (14 June 1992), Principle 15.

133 Cf. Mexican Bishops’ Conference, Episcopal Commission for Pastoral and Social Concerns, Jesucristo, vida y esperanza de los indígenas e campesinos (14 January 2008).

134 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 470.

135 Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, 9: AAS 102 (2010), 46.

136 Ibid.

137 Ibid., 5: p. 43.

138 Benedict XVI, Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 50: AAS 101 (2009), 686.

139 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 209: AAS 105 (2013), 1107.

140 Ibid., 228: AAS 105 (2013), 1113.

141 Cf. Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei (29 June 2013), 34: AAS 105 (2013), 577: “Nor is the light of faith, joined to the truth of love, extraneous to the material world, for love is always lived out in body and spirit; the light of faith is an incarnate light radiating from the luminous life of Jesus. It also illumines the material world, trusts its inherent order, and knows that it calls us to an ever widening path of harmony and understanding. The gaze of science thus benefits from faith: faith encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in all its inexhaustible richness. Faith awakens the critical sense by preventing research from being satisfied with its own formulae and helps it to realize that nature is always greater. By stimulating wonder before the profound mystery of creation, faith broadens the horizons of reason to shed greater light on the world which discloses itself to scientific investigation”.

142 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 256: AAS 105 (2013), 1123.

143 Ibid., 231: p. 1114.


Chapter One: What is Happening to Our Common Home
I. Pollution and climate change
II. The issue of water
III. Loss of biodiversity
IV. Decline in the quality of human life and the breakdown of society
V. Global inequality
VI. Weak responses
VII. A variety of opinions

Chapter Two: The Gospel of Creation
I. The light offered by faith
II. The wisdom of the biblical accounts
III. The mystery of the universe
IV. The message of each creature in the harmony of creation
V. A universal communion
VI. The common destination of goods
VII. The gaze of Jesus

Chapter Three: The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
I. Technology: Creativity and power
II. The globalization of the technocratic paradigm
III. The crisis and effects of modern anthropocentrism

Chapter Four: Integral Ecology
I. Environmental, economic and social ecology
II. Cultural ecology
III. Ecology of daily life
IV. The principle of the common good
V. Justice between the generations

Chapter Five: Lines of Approach and Action
I. Dialogue on the environment in the international community
II. Dialogue for new national and local policies
III. Dialogue and transparency in decision-making
IV. Politics and economy in dialogue for human fulfillment
V. Religions in dialogue with science

Chapter Six: Ecological Education and Spirituality
I. Towards a new lifestyle
II. Educating for the covenant between humanity and the environment
III. Ecological conversion
IV. Joy and peace
V. Civic and political love
VI. Sacramental signs and the celebration of rest
VII. The Trinity and the relationship between creatures
VIII. Queen of all creation
IX. Beyond the sun

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