03 December 2020, The Tablet

The greening of a Pope

Beyond the pandemic

The greening of a Pope

In his new book Let Us Dream, the Pope shares a very personal vision of a fairer world in the aftermath of Covid. In one of the most moving passages, he describes coming to see that the call to live in friendship with God and our neighbour is inseparably bound up with care for our environment

For a long time we carried on thinking we could be healthy in a world that was sick. But the crisis has brought home how important it is to work for a healthy world.

The world is God’s gift to us. The biblical story of Creation has a constant refrain: “And God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:12). Good means bountiful, life-giving and ­beautiful. Beauty is the entryway to ecological awareness. When I listen to Haydn’s The Creation, I am transported into the glory of God in the beauty of created things. At the end, in the long duet of Adam and Eve, you meet a man and a woman enraptured by the beauty they have been given. Beauty, like Creation itself, is a pure gift, a sign of the God who overflows with love for us.

If someone who loves you gives you a ­beautiful and valuable gift, how do you handle it? To treat it with contempt is to treat the giver with contempt. If you value it, you admire it, look after it; you do not disdain it; you respect it and are grateful. The damage to our planet stems from the loss of this awareness of gratitude. We have grown used to owning, but too little to thanking. My own awareness of this truth began to take root during a meeting of the bishops of Latin America at the shrine of Aparecida, Brazil, in May 2007. I was on the committee drafting the concluding document of the meeting, and at first I was a bit annoyed that the Brazilians and bishops from other countries wanted so much in there on Amazonia. It struck me as excessive.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login