75 – Laudato si’ (II): what Francis forgot…

Advertizing, news, social networks…we are bombarded on all sides by information…But the information we receive is often contradictory. Who should we listen to? What path should we follow? Where is the real truth to be found?

An Encyclical is launched, and as Catholics we avidly read it in search of directives to give meaning to our lives, indicating the steps we should take so as to live our holy Religion with authenticity in the midst of a society devastated by sin. We hoped for clear words to strengthen us in the faith of the Church, which has suffered such defamation in our days. But… instead, we find warnings about the care of nature! So ecologists feel encouraged, the soothsayers of climatic change are buoyant, those of other religions are respected, and we Catholics – forgotten, abandoned and, why not admit it…a little perplexed. Isn’t Jesus Christ the center of our faith? Why does this document refer to Him and His Church in such a vague and secondary manner? Is care for creation really the most important aspect in the life of a Christian, above all in these times? Will we conquest Heaven simply by loving and caring for irrational creatures?

Faced with these concerns, it seems necessary to fix our attention on the Light that never stops shining, on the wellspring of Truth, on the infallible voice of the Popes and the Magisterium of the Church, so as to consider what they have to tell us – so much! — about the topics dealt with in this Encyclical.

What should the attitude of the faithful be with regards to the whole of creation?

Francis

Quote AQuote BQuote CQuote DQuote E

Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

ContentsAuthors
I – Man is an image of God and all was created for him
II – Creatures reflect God in various manners, according to the hierarchy He established. The attempt to abase all levels of goodness among creatures leads to pantheism
III – The Holy Catholic Church is the only true Church: It may not be equaled to other religious professions
IV – Christ is the center and the exemplary cause of all creation


I – Man is an image of God and all was created for him


Among all of the marvels of creation, one in particular stands out due to its great superiority: the human being. ‘Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet’ (Ps 8:5-6). Created in the image and likeness of God, we may not forget that man has a spiritual and eternal soul, and is the only creature of all visible beings that is capable of knowing his Creator. These characteristics place the human being above other creatures, for he alone, by the express divine will, is king of a creation that he is called to dominate. If we wish to be in accord with God, the Almighty Creator, we must love and analyze nature according to His divine plan, giving to each creature the attention, importance and position that God wished to give it. That is why we shall now bring to mind who man is, and the implication of his supremacy over the earth.


Francis

Nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. (Encyclical Laudato Si’, no. 67, May 24, 2015)


TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM

Sacred Scripture

The very first pages of Sacred Scripture emphasize that man has dominion over other creatures
Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands
He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world

Saint Augustine of Hippo

Man, created in that very image and likeness of God, was set over all irrational creatures

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Divine Providence always governs inferior things by the superior. Made in God’s image, man is above all animals - these are rightly subject to him
The subjection of other animals to man is in keeping with the order of nature itself

John Paul II

Man, God’s image, is the center of creation – he must dominate the earth and communicate to it his own dignity with the perspicacity of his intelligence
God put all at the disposition of man, to make of creatures a hymn of praise to God
Man can dominate the earth because he alone - and no other - is capable of ‘tilling it’ and transforming it according to his own needs
Within the order of creation, inferior creatures are submitted to man

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

All things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Created realities exist for man’s use

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Man was created to serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him

Saint John Chrysostom

Man is more precious in the eyes of God than all other creatures

Benedict XVI

The fundamental difference between the human being and other animals in the fact that man is capable of recognizing God, his Creator

Pius XI

Man has a value far surpassing that of the vast inanimate cosmos

Saint John of the Cross

What is a human thought worth?

John Paul II

Man: the only being on earth that God willed for his own sake, has a dignity stemming from his spiritual nature
Christianity is anthropocentric precisely because it is fully theocentric

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)

Man’s end is not lesser creatures, but rather supernatural – a participation in divine goods

John Paul II

The splendor of truth shines forth in a special way in man
Man cannot accept that his spiritual being be submitted to that which is inferior within the hierarchy of creatures

II – Creatures reflect God in various manners, according to the hierarchy He established. The attempt to abase all levels of goodness among creatures leads to pantheism


 Man was created in the image and likeness of God; and other creatures, each in its own way, are reflections of God. In accordance with the ontological constitution of beings, Saint Bonaventure classifies them as shadow, vestiges or images of God. Among the multitude of unequal beings, a true order and harmony established by God himself prevails. Benedict XVI alerted against an attitude that tends to consider inferior beings as equal to superior beings, calling it a ‘new pantheism’.


Francis

Christ has taken unto himself this material world and now, risen, is intimately present to each being, surrounding it with his affection and penetrating it with his light. (Encyclical Laudato Si’, no. 221)


TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM

Saint Thomas Aquinas

The diversity and inequality in created things are from the intention of God Himself
The perfection of the universe is in the distinction of things

Saint Bonaventure

The diversity of creatures: a stairway to ascend into God
Saint Bonaventure explains the hierarchy existing in creation: ‘the first things are the lesser, the second ones the middle, the third the best’
All creatures of this sensible world lead the spirit in contemplating to God – some clearer than others

Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence. (Encyclical Laudato Si, no. 66)


St. Bonaventure’s own words about what he meant about St. Francis being a new picture of man’s estate before the Fall

John Paul II

Ecocentrism and biocentrism: an egalitarian consideration of the ‘dignity’ of all living beings
The principal danger: reducing an individual to a thing, or regarding him in the same way as other elements of nature

Catechism of the Catholic Church

To truly love nature is to look at it as God does: in the order and harmony resulting from the diversity of beings and the relationships among them

John Paul II

The contemplation of the nature itself should remind us that, if God cares in this way for his creatures, what will he not do for us?

Benedict XVI

It should also be stressed that it is contrary to authentic development to view nature as more important than the human person: this leads to attitudes of neo-paganism or new pantheism
The Magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism since these eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things

Pontifical Council for Culture and Council for Interreligious Dialogue

New Age has a marked preference for Eastern or pre-Christian religions, and considers the world itself divine

Pius X

Error of pernicious character: the divine action is one with the action of nature

Pius XI

Whoever identifies, by pantheistic confusion, God and the universe, is not a believer in God

 

III – The Holy Catholic Church is the only true Church: It may not be equaled to other religious professions


 Making all beings equal brings as a logical consequence the equality of religions. The New Age even goes to the point of identifying Buddha with Christ. The voice of the Church is the only true voice, the Magisterium has always declared it to be the only true Church, within which salvation is found.


Outside the Catholic Church, other Churches and Christian communities – and other religions as well – have expressed deep concern and offered valuable reflections on issues which all of us find disturbing. (Encyclical Laudato Si’, no, 7)

…yet by constantly returning to their sources, religions will be better equipped to respond to today’s needs. (Encyclical Laudato Si’, no. 200)


TEACHINGS OF THE MAGISTERIUM

Sacred Scripture

St. Paul’s exhortation: instruct people not to teach false doctrines or to concern themselves with myths

Pontifical Council for Culture and Council for Interreligious Dialogue

For the New Age, Jesus of Nazareth is simply one among many historical figures like Buddha and others

Paul VI

Only our religion effectively establishes with God an authentic and living relationship which other religions do not succeed in doing

Benedict XVI

Neither are all religions equal, nor should religious indifferentism be accepted

John Paul II

There is a tendency to equate all religions and spiritual experiences as if they were all paths to salvation
There is no path of salvation in a religion other than that founded in the faith in Christ - the inconsistency and superficiality of a relativistic and irenic attitude

Paul VI

Honesty compels us to declare openly our conviction that the Christian religion is the one and only true religion

John XXIII

An absurd proposition: one religion is just as good as another. God, who is truth, cannot tolerate indifference with respect to eternal salvation

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

It is only through Christ’s Catholic Church that there is the plenitude of the means of salvation

Pius XI

False opinion: to consider all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy

Leo XIII

The only true Religion can be recognized without difficulty, especially in Catholic states
They can in no wise be counted among the children of God, unless they take Christ Jesus as their Brother and Church as their mother
Differing modes of divine worship cannot all be equally acceptable to God

Pius IX

An agreement between Christ and Belial: the shocking theory that it makes no difference to which religion one belongs

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)

Not at all equal is the condition of those who have adhered to the Catholic truth, and of those who follow a false religion

Gregory XVI

Indifferentism: fraud of the wicked, who claim it is possible to obtain salvation by professing any religion - they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith!

Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office

No one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered by relativistic theories attempting to justify religious pluralism

Saint Irenaeus of Lyon

Those who are not united to the Church reject the Spirit and dig for themselves broken cisterns, drinking putrid water out of the mire

Saint John of the Cross

To seek anything other than Christ is to commit an offence against God

IV – Christ is the center and the exemplary cause of all creation


Our Lord Jesus Christ, ‘the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things’ (Col 1:15-16) is the ‘book’ wherein one may read and understand the entire Work of Creation. This nature which has shadows, vestiges or images of God was modeled according to the ‘Eternal Wisdom’, the ‘Incarnate Word’. God created all beings from nothing and out of love. He created them in perfect harmony and order. The Most High put man and woman as sovereigns of all creation, and all of the other creatures were submitted to them by nature. But within this equilibrium and peace, man sinned and thus introduced disorder and confusion into the world. The Word, which had been the model of the first creation, ‘took flesh’ and made a ‘new creation’ through the cross and resurrection.
The Church has always considered the whole of creation in function of the Divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ and any consideration that omits this point ends up being naturalistic and is not in accordance with the Magisterium of the Church.


Sacred Scripture

All things came to be through the Word
In Christ all the fullness dwells

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Christ is the perfect Image of God since He is one with the Father in his divine nature

John Paul II

Christian tradition has always seen the face of Christ in the Eternal Wisdom

Benedict XVI

Jesus Christ is the Lord of all creation and of all history

Congregation for the Clergy

Christ introduced into time and into the world a new form of life, which is sublime and divine

Paul VI

In Christ all things were created, in heaven and on earth – He is truly the center of history

Pius XII

All harmony in the world comes from Christ

Leo XIII

Christ: the exemplar cause whence all creatures borrow their form and beauty, their order and harmony

Saint Bonaventure

Christ the Son of God, who is the invisible Image of God by nature
The Divine Word is the prototype of which the human being was produced by exemplar causality

John Paul II

The light of God’s face shines in all its beauty on the countenance of Jesus Christ, ‘the image of the invisible God’

Benedict XVI

The first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation of Christ
Sin ruins ever anew the divine project of nature
The arrogance of human beings who live ‘as if God did not exist’ leads them to exploit and disfigure nature

John Paul II

Infinite is the power of forgiveness of the sacrifice of the Son – but man can oppose grace and truth in the face of the witness of the cross

Pius X

Human society today is suffering from a terrible and deep rooted malady - apostasy from God

Pius XI

The greatest and most destructive evils transcend the material or natural sphere and lie within the supernatural and religious order

John Paul II

It is not just the creation of living man as in the first creation, but that of introducing man into divine life - ‘if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation’

Leave a Reply