Shrinking minority is hoarding wealth, power, cardinal says
VATICAN CITY • People of faith and those working in the fields of science, economics and politics need to work together to help care for life and humanity's common home, said Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
"Principles of interconnection and co-responsibility frame the climate as a common good and the planet as our common home. The call to protect, care and regenerate it must be a priority for everyone, regardless of one's belonging to this or that religion or none at all," he said May 23.
"Important contributions include the scientific consensus, inspiration, introspection, careful consideration of what has to change; political commitment to coordinate these changes; religious inspiration, motivation and orientation; and popular movements from below to care for both our most vulnerable siblings and our common (home)," he said.
The cardinal spoke at a round table discussion titled, "Hope for the Earth. Hope for Humanity," sponsored by the dicastery in collaboration with the Swedish Embassy to the Holy See as part of Laudato Si' Week May 21-28.
Pope Francis highlighted the start of the week after praying the "Regina Coeli" with visitors in St. Peter's Square May 21, inviting everyone "to collaborate in the care of our common home. There is such a need to put our capabilities and creativity together!"
He also told visitors they would receive guidebooks about his 2015 encyclical "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home," which the dicastery prepared in collaboration with the Stockholm Environment Institute. Titled, "Our Common Home: A Guide to Caring for our Living Planet," the 20-page, full-color guide connects scientific facts and figures on key environmental issues with reflections and teachings from the encyclical.
The guidebook can be viewed on mobile or desktop here: sei.org/ourcommonhome. The guidebook can be downloaded in five languages HERE:
In his talk May 23, Cardinal Czerny said that "faith and science, economy and politics are all needed so that people, in dialogue, might care for life and our common home."
Inspired by the Pope's encyclical, "this is exactly the message of 'Our Common Home' guidebook," he said, expressing his hope that people would apply it at home, school, church and elsewhere around the world. "May it also inspire further fruitful dialogue between communities of faith and of science."
"Together faith and science can inspire genuine ecological conversion based in fact and driven by faith," he said. "Science and faith share some core values and purpose capable of illuminating and orienting how to fix our broken societies and broken planet."
Environmental responsibility and social justice go hand in hand, he said. "Resource extraction, production, pollution and waste disproportionately harm communities that benefit least from these activities."
That also means the way today's economies are run and developed must change, he added, because they "rely on the unsustainable burning of fossil fuels; the current market pushes harmful levels of consumption that pollute the environment with garbage as well as our souls and spirits with insatiable greed."
"But this wild license to consume is enjoyed by a shrinking minority of the global population that hoards power and wealth and appears to lack any sense of the genuine common good," Cardinal Czerny said.
Essential then to changing the status quo is the contribution climate scientists can make "by clarifying and explaining the everyday experiences of vulnerable communities suffering extreme climate disasters," he said.
Also, the land rights of local and Indigenous peoples "must be strengthened to regenerate our soils and protect all species," the cardinal said. "It is the education of youth and the empowerment of women that bring about the best possible social and environmental outcomes; and it is concern for intergenerational justice that will ensure a bright and meaningful future for our youth."
Economic priorities will need to "shift from raw profit toward integral human development," he said, and local communities will have to act, especially regarding food waste, air pollution, water insecurity and biodiversity loss.