Dear Editor: My deepest thanks to Bishop DiMarzio for his “Put Out into the Deep” column on Pope Francis’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’, On Care For Our Common Home” (July 22). I was especially moved by the Bishop’s memories of how his own grandfather “Francesco” embodied one of the points Pope “Francesco” stresses in his encyclical, never wasting what God has given us, never colluding in today’s “throwaway” culture.
I am also grateful that Bishop DiMarzio calls us to study Laudato Si’ and provides a link to The Tablet’s online study guide. With Protestants, Jews, Muslims and other religious people around the world, not to mention atheists, Marxists and “nones,” reading and responding to the encyclical, it certainly seems fitting that we Catholics should do so as well!
My one concern about the bishop’s column is that he seems to suggest that the environment that causes “the most direct threat” to human beings is “the misunderstanding of contraception and population control.” Of course, Pope Francis does clearly state on several occasions in “Laudato si’” that abortion and lack of respect for life are part of the throwaway culture that threatens God’s creation.
But it would be a mistake to say that “Laudato si’” places abortion and contraception at the top of a hierarchy of sins against God’s creation. It is no coincidence that in his chapter on “integral ecology,” that is, on the inherent connection between all things, Pope Francis stresses the integral connection between environmental destruction and “the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the poor… buying the organs of the poor for resale, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted. This same use and throw-away logic generates so much waste,” he tells us, “because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary.” (123)
Pope Francis affirms the Church’s teaching on the preciousness of unborn life. He also challenges us to realize that this precious life extends to all of God’s creation – the Earth we live on, the water we drink, the plants we eat and the air we breathe and that we must revere all of it.
MARIAN RONAN, PH.D.
Editor’s Note: Dr. Marian Ronan is a research professor of Catholic Studies at New York Theological Seminary.