Integral Ecology

Last week’s Mapping Laudato Si’ looked at the ecology of daily life with special emphasis on urban and rural life. Now we turn to the final pieces of Chapter IV: common good and the question of intergenerational justice

1. The Principle of the Common Good (156-158)

The Pope reminds all that the common good is “inseparable from the idea of an integral human ecology. The common good is “the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment.” (#156)

He emphasizes the common good as a central and unifying principle of social ethics and offers three elements are foundational for an understanding of the common good (#157):

The Encyclical calls on society as a whole, and the states in particular, to defend and promote the common good, showing in a special way solidarity with and preferential option for the poorest of our brothers and sisters. (#157-158)

2. Justice between the Generations (#159-162)

The Pope defines intergenerational solidarity as the notion of the common good

extended to future generations. He comments that: “Intergenerational solidarity is

 not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us” (#159), adding that our very dignity is at stake. He says that: “The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes” (#161). The current crisis demands a very concrete response, and Pope Francis says: “The effects of the present imbalance can only be reduced by our decisive action, here and now. We need to reflect on our accountability before those who will have to endure the dire consequences” (#162).

Questions for Reflection

The Pope speaks about a consumerist vision of human beings and that the pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has stretched the planet’s capacity, which can only lead to catastrophes.

1. How do you think we contribute to this situation?

2. How do you see the connection between the universal destination of the world’s common goods and the evangelical preferential option for the poor?

Pope Francis affirms that “intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice”.

3. What must be done to guarantee a better future for the generations to come?

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