You shall listen to the outcry of the Earth and of the poor.
Today, however, we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. (LS, 49)
Throughout our journey across the ten
principles, we have attempted to give an answer to the outcry of the
Earth and the poor starting with the first mandate of the decalogue,
which asks of us to support the cause of the poor (1) as a
starting milestone in the path to follow. This must be done through an
honest and constant reflection on our lifestyle and priorities as well
as on our consumption habits to assess whether if they are above our
needs, spending more goods than needed at the expense of those who
cannot access the essentials - to determine if our lifestyle is
contributing to the global crisis already proving economically and
How to respond to the outcries that arise from environmental degradation? Rediscovering the value of the simplicity of our own life (2), encouraged by an individual, ecclesial and communitarian conversion (5).
The Church, following the invitation of Jesus, presents conversion as a way to go back to Him, focusing not only our thinking, our will, our commitments and our wishes on Him, but also our discouragement, our incoherence and our fears. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is already within each one of us and all we need to do to embrace the calling to a new life is to look inward. Therefore, the journey begins within ourselves and kicks off by valuing the relevance of our daily habits (3) in order to alter them if needed. The change in these personal daily habits does not only affect the person itself, but also its environment and "a change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power" (LS 206) and lead us to encourage the necessary decisions even if they are costly (6).
A facilitating proposal is to dive into our own spiritual tradition (8),
and such a spirituality can motivate us to a more passionate concern
for the protection of our world (LS 216). The convictions born from our
spirituality and our personal commitment will grant us the openness
needed to accept the scientific consensus (9) confirming
environmental degradation and the disposition to compromise to
straighten it out. In our spirituality, as St. John Paul II said in the
World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, each Christian
has an "ecological calling" that is today more urgent than ever. All of
us Christians must be aware that not caring for nature by carrying out
practices such as reckless exploitation of scarce resources constitutes a
threat to life. True ecology regards scientific consensus and takes a
step further towards protecting the environment, human ecology, social
ecology and cultural ecology. However, without a conversion of the
spirit and trusting only technological advances, we will not witness an
ecology that is truly human, an essential ecology at the service of
Creation. This should lead us to the overcoming of the technocratic paradigm (10), given that "scientistic
mentality has succeeded in leading many to think that if something is
technically possible it is therefore morally admissible" (Encyclical Fides et Ratio, Saint John Paul II).
Nature surrounding us is a gift and not a property and it is to be wisely administered, not to be neglectfully exploited by human beings from the perspective of a limitless growth model to the delight of economists, scientists and technologists. The mandate that we draw from this is that we must not subject our actions to economic interests (7).
It is now, more than ever, necessary to overcome the techno-economic paradigm (LS 203) that has taken over in order to bring back an economy that serves humanity and respects Creation - an economic ecology capable of appealing to a broader vision of reality (LS 141). Acknowledging that that which is essential to humanity is a gift which has been bestowed upon it - its conscience, its intelligence, its capabilities (inherent and acquired), its dependency, its ability to be caring, to share, to give itself to others, ultimately, what allows humans to live. It is all a gift, not a possession. It is nothing but tools which we have acquired and yet we continue to make them expansions of our beings at the expense of forgetting what we are, thus losing sight of their ephemeralness and subject to change, development, improvement or disappearance. Everything in nature surrounding us is a gift and not property, in the rich diversity of our world to be wisely managed (4) and not to "lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them believing in infinite or unlimited growth" (LS 106).
sum up the ten commandments in the green decalogue, the document of
Reason and Faith from which we take the mandate from comprises the title
to this reflection:
"Hear the cry the cry of the poor" and "hear the cry of the earth" (cf. LS 49)... and you will listen in such a way and with such depth, that you will find...
"the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet,
the conviction that everything in the world is connected,
the critique of new paradigms and forms of power derived from technology,
the call to seek other ways of understanding the economy and progress,
the value proper to each creature,
the human meaning of ecology,
the need for forthright and honest debate,
the serious responsibility of international and local policy,
the throwaway culture and
the proposal of a new lifestyle." (LS 16)
As a final calling we extend to you the invitation to share and participate of the plan proposed in the decalogue. Our faith and commitment towards others who are impoverished moves us to do so because of "how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace" (LS 10) and because "we are called to be instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness" (LS 53).
Voices that claim...
1. YOU SHALL SUPPORT THE CAUSE OF THE POOR
Brazilian Bishop (1909-1999)
"If I feed the poor, I am deemed a saint, but if I ask why the poor starve, I am deemed a communist."
Living in Santa Cruz, Sucumbíos, Ecuador
"To date, thousands of families suffer the consequences of this pollution, skin diseases, various types of cancer, stomach diseases, highly toxic agricultural lands, extreme poverty. That's the legacy of the company that our governments said would bring progress and development to our people."
2. YOU SHALL REDISCOVER THE VALUE OF SIMPLICITY IN YOUR OWN LIFE
"So long as the First World stops to be so will it be able to aid the Third World."
Natura, Peruan Amazon
"Over the past few years, the life of the population surrounding the rivers has changed very quickly and abruptly. The changes that have taken place have always been to the detriment of our well-being, of our health, of our culture and our fundamental rights."
3. YOU SHALL VALUE THE RELEVANCE OF OUR DAILY HABITS
"Social problems must be addressed by community networks and not simply by the sum of individual good deeds." (LS, 219)
President Uru-Warmi, Puyo (Ecuador)
"Defending territory has to do with nature. To cut down a tree is to cut down a life, that's why, when I become authority, I'm going to demand that, because if we sow a tree, we're going to sow a life."
4. YOU SHALL APPRECIATE THE DIVERSITY OF OUR WORLD
Luis Campuzano, "Sandalio"
"After over 35 years visiting prisons and chopanos (slums where the homeless take refuge) and welcoming so many people into our community house, I would say that the most important thing is the meetings and real coexistence."
Kichwa village (Ecuador)
"No more looting our Amazon."
5. YOUR SHALL ENCOURAGE AN INDIVIDUAL, ECCLESIAL AND COMMUNITARIAN CONVERSION
Nun from Asunción
"Where do these claiming voices come from? They come from different locations such as "The Creeper House", in which I take part on Tuesdays and which shelters a number of sub-groups in the neighbourhood which are organized for different purposes; we have "Food Bank," who look for food and then distribute it, "Anti evictions", "Invisibles" who accompany the needy...The Pope cries out to us; go out to the peripheries! Do not remain in your circle of life and action, as if that were the only thing that concerns you. There are many people who need you."
"I am very hurt by what is happening to my people, we have been very hurt by the violation of our rights, by how we have mistreated one another as if we were enemies, the settlers and the indigenous people. We are one, capable of building a project for the future that unifies us all."
6. YOU SHALL ENCOURAGE THE NECESSARY DECISIONS EVEN IF THEY ARE COSTLY
"I really like the verb "to link"...it helps us better understand the attitude the Lord expects from his people: "choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life" (Dt. 30,19)."
Piuja community, San Jose (Ucayali, Peru)
"Not everything needs be bought as long as it can be easily made."
7. YOU SHALL NOT SUBJECT YOUR ACTIONS TO ECONOMIC INTERESTS
Founder of the Focolare Movement (Italy)
"Her proposal was to create companies that would compete freely in the market and make profits, but would use those profits to fight poverty and exclusion, as well as to develop and spread a new economic culture open to free gift, reciprocity and communion.
Yanomami people (Brazil)
"We are shocked by extractive activities that have to do with illegal exploitation on indigenous lands, oil, agribusiness that advance more and more. When we divide the land, there is no such thing as poor, rich, high class, low class, or any other class; there is no classification in our cultural context.
8. YOU SHALL DIVE INTO YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL TRADITION
Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew
World Day of Prayer for Creation (01-Sept-2017)
"Our obligation to use the goods of the earth with responsibility implies recognition and respect of all people and of all living beings".
Peasant, Colombian Amazon
"They want to displace us, to take away the land to sow the oil palm. We are going to cease to exist as peasants, a different model is going to be imposed, where business is prioritized over traditional cultivation, the agro-industry model and monoculture, apart from the threat of hydrocarbon companies. We're going to be part of the big list of displaced people in Colombia.
9. YOUR SHALL ACCEPT THE SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS
Over 15 000 scientists
Alert to save the planet
"Humanity is not taking the urgent measures needed to protect our endangered biosphere."
Awajún people, Peru
"Human dimension is not exclusive to us, it belongs to all beings: plants, fish, mountains...there lies the relevance of respect and a harmonious coexistence."
10. YOUR SHALL OVERCOME THE TECHNOCRATIC PARADIGM
Geography professor, University of Alcalá
"Respecting nature means to respect it just as it is, acknowledging that it is a result of a loving decision of the Creator - for those of us who believe in God - or a set of random mutations of millions of years. In any case, it is not for us to manipulate at our own will."
"Nowadays there are various technologies available, but it is necessary to think. It's not just about using technology, but about knowing how we're using it. These technological tools should help revitalize our thinking - that's part of our liberation."
What can you do
(or stop doing)?
1. Reflection, interiorisation, reading, studying...
Faced with the challenge posed by the Laudato Si' - to listen to and attend to the cry of the earth and the cry of the most vulnerable people - this campaign has put forward, over the last two years, a good number of concrete proposals for action that could mean a change in personal and, in the long run, social attitudes that will contribute to the construction of a more just society.
The first thing we invite you to do is to reflect, to know and to internalise this topic, so that your answers are adequate, but you can also feel convinced by them.
Start by Reading the encyclical Laudato Si'...
2. Questioning our attitudes
From reflection, let us move on to consider our way of life.
Start by by reflecting on whether we need as many material things as we have, whether we really need to live consuming so much energy, so many resources, so much water...
On the other hand, is our attachment to technology something fundamental in our lives? Without underestimating its usefulness, could we be a little less dependently of it?
This word comes as soon as we question a way of living and consuming such as ours. We must set out towards a more sober lifestyle, free from the bonds of consumerism. Sobriety, simplicity, is a way of life, a path and, like utopia, we must begin to travel it some when.
The return to a simpler lifestyle is a responsible solution for people and for the planet.
Learn to value the routine, the small things. It will help us to live more simply, to be happier.
...Stop for a second and think about the wonderful diversity of our world, come closer to nature, which is often more within reach of our hands than we believe; take it in and rejoice, admiring the incredible beauty of creation.
You can also reflect on the causes and consequences of environmental degradation and poverty. Reading, knowing and watching videos will help you in this task. Do so with an open mind and ability to identify yourself and share your feelings with others. Information can help us become aware of the magnitude of the problem facing humanity. We may have heard about the greenhouse effect, climate change, global warming and even its impact on the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable people, but we are not able to relate all the arguments and truly understand what is going on, why is it happening and how it affects us.
This is often best done in company. Share these reflections with people close to you; we invite you to join us in celebration and prayer. Celebration and prayer will lead us to deepen our Christian tradition, which clearly poses respect for Creation and love for all people, especially the most impoverished.
Consumerism is a choice, not an obligation. By considering a more conscious and austere way of life, freeing ourselves from the slavery of consumerism can be a good start. Here are some options:
- Consume less, in a fairer and more rationalised way, but remain conscious of the power that we hold as consumers. Why not close the circle by contributing to responsible, conscious and transformative consumption?
- Take a step towards the alternatives that Social and Solidarity Economy offer in your daily acts of consumption.
- Consume food from organic agriculture and livestock close to you that preserves the local varieties enriching our diversity.
- We have Social Markets in which we find cooperative production, ethical finance and fair trade. Skip the logic of International Markets and consume Fair Trade products.
5. Change of attitude
It is the first step to change our daily behaviours and put them at the service of people and the environment in which we share space with the rest of creatures of Creation. Starting to think and behave differently is not a sign of eccentricity, rebellion without cause or a threat to well-being. For Christians it is simply a manner to follow the way of Jesus.
The transformation we are proposing implies other changes in our daily behaviours. Always looking for practices and small gestures within our reach and that can become a routine in our life.
Conversion involves a new relationship with things, with people, with nature and with the problems of society itself and the world: overcoming the culture of indifference and always remaining focused on oneself.
Realise that the care of Creation is a very broad challenge that involves many elements in which we have something to say:
- Stop, bring your pace down a notch. Live every day being fully conscious of yourself, of those around you and that which surrounds you.
- Transport: look for less fuel-consuming ways to move about.
- Economy: another element exposed to everyone's opinion. We cannot get by without banks, but we can choose them. If "finance overwhelms the real economy" (LS, 109) skip the logic of conventional finance and join the ethical market.
- Social web: given that the current model of consumption is socially and environmentally unsustainable, we need to participate in projects that, on a small scale, test a more sustainable form of consumption, in which many people can become involved. The support of others can help us to keep up individual life choices that are not easy.
- Take the side of the most vulnerable. You can get involved in organisations and campaigns that teach the causes and consequences of global warming, poverty, injustice in our world and, most importantly, change those habits that you know are the cause.
You and I, we have the chance to change the world. We can make a difference because, when you care for the planet, you fight poverty.
Lord, our God and our Father, we want to thank You for the journey that, through Your Will, we have embarked on, analysing the realities in our world; in which You have helped us discover the beauty of Your work and also the deterioration that we cause with our poor behavior.
Thank you Lord for Pope Francis who has motivated us to make this journey.
Thank you for making it easier for us to feel the cry of the earth and of nature, which resent our excesses, and the silent and afflicted cry of the poor who suffer them.
As we contemplate the beauties of Creation, the work of your hands (Ps. 8) our hearts are moved with joy and praise. Glory to you, O God!
From joy and praise arise in our hearts also the compassion and mercy that come from you, towards our world, towards us and towards our brothers and sisters. And a hope, which brings us in this Easter season the Resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ, our brother, because He makes all things new.
We give you thanks because now, as we remember your commandments for our salvation, we discover, by the impulse of your Holy Spirit, the commandments you have placed in our hearts for the loving care of the earth and of the brothers and sisters you give us.
From this sensitivity that is awakening in us, we want to ask you, Father:
For our world so that it may preserve its precious and rich diversity that makes life possible.
For the poor in spirit and in wealth, that they may find a remedy for their poverty in faith in You and in Your Word.
the powerful of the Earth, in strength, in knowledge and in science, so
that, recognizing that they have received them from You as free gifts,
they may use them and share them for the common good.
Aendoshiari (Amazonian Forests - Dominican Missionaries)