The Pope Concludes Pandemic Talks

From the Pastor

Pope Concludes Pandemic Talks

Since the beginning of August, Pope Francis has devoted his Wednesday General Audience Catechesis to the problems of social justice exposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Each week Francis has addressed an issue exacerbated by the pandemic. He has talked about such concerns as human dignity, human solidarity, subsidiarity, preferential option for the poor, and this week the environment or care for our common home. These issues constitute the basis for a book Francis has written, To Heal the World, outlining ways to address social problems in society after the pandemic.

On Wednesday, September 16, 2020, Francis spoke about the environment and care for our common home. He discussed contemplation and caring as ways to rebalance the relationship between humans and our environment. Francis said that in the wake of the pandemic, we need to be more aware of the weakest, sick, and elderly. Recognition must go to the essential workers who care for these people.

The pope declared that we must become more mindful of the need to care for the environment of our common home in the wake of the pandemic. Humans are responsible for the health and wellbeing of the ecosystem created by God and entrusted to us. He said that contemplation was the antidote for the misuse of the environment. Francis stated that a lack of contemplation causes people to fall prey to an unbalanced human-centered world view that places excessive importance on the role of human beings in shape our environment. It has caused us to believe humans are the absolute rulers of the earth.

Francis attributed a distorted interpretation of biblical texts for contributing to the exploitation and abuse of our common home, the earth. In the Book of Genesis, God commanded Adam to subdue the world. This command has been misinterpreted and has led to the exploitation of the environment. It has caused many to forget our vocation as custodians of life.

Francis pointed out that while the earth needs to be worked so, we can live. It must be done without exploiting it. Our mission is to care for our common home. He said the poor and the earth lament the damage done to the world and, in justice, demand another course of action.

The pope stated that to help heal the earth, humans need to adopt a more contemplative approach to nature. We need to discover the intrinsic value of all things given by God. Without a contemplative approach to nature and creation, we end up exploiting nature and people Francis said. People end up being slaves to the exploitation of our common home. Francis suggested that in the wake of the pandemic, education, and new production and consumption habits that will contribute to the advance of new models of economic growth that respect our common home need development.

Pope Francis ended by encouraging contemplation as the tool to help people take up the responsibility for being guardians of life and hope. He claimed the world needs to pay tribute to indigenous peoples and those people who work to protect their territories. The pope stressed that everyone has a role to play in caring for our common home and all creation. 

Throughout the pandemic, it has been declared that at its end, we will face a new normal. Pope Francis has given us a peek at how that new normal can look if we take the need for a transformation to our world seriously. It can be a world with greater respect for human dignity, a preferential option for the poor, that works together in solidarity with respect for our common home and for the right of all people to have a voice in plans for the progress of peoples. Our world can be transformed for the better if we all pledge to make an effort to try.