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The Pope Francis’ Encyclical letter on Ecology (Second part)

Today I want to continue analyzing the encyclical letter “Laudato si'” of Pope Francis. I’ll analyze the letter’s parts where the Pope gives the biblical passages about ecology:

66. The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations. This in turn distorted our mandate to “have dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), to “till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). As a result, the originally harmonious relationship between human beings and nature became conflictual (cf. Gen 3:17-19). It is significant that the harmony which Saint Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture. Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence. This is a far cry from our situation today, where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.

First of all there is an hermeneutical observation about the way by which to understand the creation’s biblical accounts. They are “symbolic” accounts. What does it mean? It doesn’t mean that the creation’s accounts are to be considered as “fiction”. They contain instead “profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality”. So the biblical accounts on creation (Gen 1:1-2:4 and Gen 2:5-25) don’t explain the way by which the universe has been created. They describe the human nature in relation to God and to Creation.

Human identity has been described in Genesis’ chapter 1: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness” (v.26). So men and women are able to relate to God, to other men and women and to “mother earth”. To relate to God we need to be conscious that we are human beings and that we aren’t like God; we have to entrust in God; we have to overcome narcissism and to establish warm friendhisps; we to respect mother earth, from where we come from.

“According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations.”

In Genesis’ chapter 3, the “snake” represents any evil’s incarnation. It makes men and women doubt about God’s goodness. It always makes us compete against each other and against God. So God becomes an enemy to man and we think that He doesn’t want our happiness.

The “snake” instead suggests to us that we could be like God, allowing us to do everything. In this way, human being is no more a creature, becoming a sort of “superman” that places himself over and above other people instead of in their midst. This is the “sin” that can leads to death. Human being is not God, is a creature!

“It is significant that the harmony which Saint Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture. Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence.”

Without the consciousness of our human nature, we could become evil’s coworkers that collaborate to “the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature”.

Simone Venturini

Scrittore

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