Thursday, June 18, 2015

Laudato Si' and the Question That Needs to Be Asked

Writes theologian William D. Lindsey . . .

Call me crazy, but if I were a world religious leader writing a major document about ecology today – one which stresses that it is addressing every member of the human community – and if I chose to use the word "sister" fourteen times in that major document, I'd find some way, I think, to include the voices of the sisters of my own faith community in what I had to say. Say, Hildegarde of Bingen and Julian of Norwich, who have a wealth of significant things to tell us about our relationship to the cosmos and the spiritual implications of that relationship

Or Teresa of Avila and Catherine of Siena, both profoundly important spiritual theologians. Or leading sister theologians and sister thinkers today who have written critically important works about these very matters, from Elizabeth Johnson to Rosemary Radford Ruether to Elizabeth Schüssler-Fiorenza to Mary Hunt, Ivone Gebara, Teresa Forcades and on and on.

Instead, Pope Francis' ground-breaking encyclical Laudato Si' is interlarded throughout with citations of one male religious authority figure after another, including Blessed Paul VI, Saint John Paul II, Saint John XXIII, Pope Benedict XVI, Saint Francis of Assisi and Blessed Charles de Foucauld, one bishops' conference after another ([comprised of] all men, as far as I know), and theologians including Saint Basil the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Teilhard de Chardin, Romano Guardini, etc.

Laudato Si' is full of valuable reminders that the earth is sister to all of us, and that we all originate from the womb of primal Mater, who gives birth to the mater-ial world. But nowhere in the encyclical does one really hear the voice of the many sisters and mothers who, throughout the course of Catholic history and today, have fostered these significant insights, made them shine in the discourse of the church, and reminded us that we forget these insights to the peril of all of creation.

How is it possible, I ask myself, for us to hear the voice of Sister Earth, when we refuse to hear the voices of our own human sisters and our sisters in faith?

Related Off-site Links:
Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change – Jim Yardley and Laurie Goodstein (The New York Times, June 18, 2015).
Laudato Si' arrives – Michael Winters (National Catholic Reporter, June 18, 2015).
Pope Francis: Heed ‘the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor’ – Michael O'Loughlin (Crux, June 18, 2015).
Francis' Encyclical an Urgent Call to Prevent World of "Debris, Desolation and Filth" – Joshua J. McElwee (National Catholic Reporter, June 18, 2015).
Top Ten Takeaways from Laudato Si' – James Martin, S.J. (America, June 18, 2015).
Pope Francis Highlights the Moral Imperative of Climate Action – Bob Perciasepe (Common Dreams, June 18, 2015).
Pope Urges Revolution to Save Earth, Fix 'Perverse' Economy – Nicole Winfield, Rachel Zoll and Seth Borenstein (Associated Press via ABC News, June 18, 2015).
On Planet in Distress, a Papal Call to Action – Laurie Goodstein and Justin Giles (The New York Times, June 18, 2015).
Pope Francis Aligns Himself With Mainstream Science on Climate – Justin Giles (The New York Times, June 18, 2015).
Global Warning: Pope Francis' Environmental Encyclical – Massimo Faggioli (Commonweal, June 18, 2015).
LGBT Issues and Pope Francis' Encyclical on the Environment – Francis DeBernardo (Bondings 2.0, June 18, 2015).
Minnesotans Embrace Pope Francis' Statement on Climate Change – Elizabeth Dunbar (MPR News, June 18, 2015).
Follow the Footnotes – Kevin Ahern (America, June 18, 2015).
Fox News Pundit Calls Pope Francis "the Most Dangerous Person on the Planet" for Suggesting Climate Change is Real – Antonia Blumberg (The Huffington Post, June 18, 2015).
27 Images That Prove That We Are in Danger – Jade Small (The Open Mind, June 15, 2015).
Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Has Begun, New Study Confirms – James Dyke (, June 19, 2015).
World Weighs in On Laudato Si'National Catholic Reporter (June 18, 2015).

UPDATES: A Green Pope Francis Continues to Perplex the Catholic Church – Walter Mayr (AFR Weekend, June 20, 2015).
Laudato Si' Should Have Lifted the Ban on Contraception – Jamie L. Manson (National Catholic Reporter, June 24, 2015).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Pentecost Reflection by Elizabeth Johnson
In the Garden of Spirituality – Judy Cannato
Earth Day 2015
Photo of the Day – Earth Day 2013
Thomas Berry (1914-2009)
"Something Sacred Dwells There"
The End of the World As We Know It . . .
Quote of the Day – September 19, 2014

1 comment:

jamez said...

We now have just that opportunity to contribute to the dialogue started by Laudato Si. Of course, the encyclical is not the last word on the subject but really just a belated beginning. It is now up to the entire Body of Christ - Us - to enflesh and permeate this Gospel with all our diverse insight, effort, ingenuity and Love...