The 245 paragraphs within six chapters across 181 pages of the new encyclical of Pope Francis on ecology will likely be one of the most widely read documents after the bible. Hyperbole? I don’t think so, given the worldwide interest in the topic and contemporary media channels. On the Care of Our Common Home ends with a suggestion of two prayers. The first is “A prayer for our earth” echoes themes of St. Francis’ Canticle of Creatures that serves as the title in Italian of the encyclical, Laudato Si, mi’ Signore. http://www.appleseeds.org/canticle.htm The second prayer is for believing Christians.
The style of the letter is eminently readable, unlike the usual genre of papal statements, and is meant for all inhabitants of the earth—not just Catholics or religious folk. Pope Francis intends his message to be joyful, but admits it is also troubling. Even though Francis exhorts, “Let us sing as we go,” he is not a Pollyanna. The encyclical addresses concrete problems about the care of the earth, and it also makes some difficult points. Read it for yourself.
In spite of all the challenges and difficulties related to ecology, Pope Francis does not leave us frustrated. In the final paragraph of his message, he concludes with hope:
…the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us, he does not leave us alone, for he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward. Praise be to him!
Although released just before the beginning of summer, the work is dated on the feast of Pentecost—May 24, 2015. May the illuminating breath of Yahweh inspire all human beings to receive it well and put it into practice for the world’s health and wellbeing. I found it intellectually stimulating, scientifically grounded, mystical, poetic, and spiritual. That’s quite a banquet! Above all, it is fraternal–simply signed “Francis”.