(Vatican News) “Contemplating and caring: these are two attitudes that show the way to correct and re-balance our relationship as human beings with creation.”
Those were Pope Francis’ words at the weekly General Audience held in the Courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican.
Care for each other
Speaking to the faithful gathered on Wednesday, the Pope stressed that in order to come through this pandemic it is necessary to “to look after and care for each other.”
“We must support those who care for the weakest, the sick and the elderly,” he said, because they “play a vital role in today's society, even if they often do not receive the recognition and remuneration they deserve.”
This care, Pope Francis went on to say, “must also address our common home”
“All forms of life are interconnected”, he continued, “and our health depends on that of the ecosystems that God created and entrusted to us to care for.”
Contemplation best antidote
“The best antidote against the misuse of our common home is contemplation,” said the Pope.
He added, that without contemplation “it is easy to fall prey to an unbalanced and superb anthropocentrism, which gives excessive importance to our role as human beings, positioning us as absolute rulers of all other creatures.”
Pope Francis went on to say, “A distorted interpretation of biblical texts on creation has contributed to this misinterpretation, which leads to the exploitation of the earth to the point of suffocating it.”
“We believe that we are at the centre, claiming to occupy God's place; and so we ruin the harmony of His design. We become predators, forgetting our vocation as custodians of life.”
Our mission is to care for our common home
The earth needs to be worked, so as to live, the Pope noted, but it must not be exploited. Instead, our mission, he pointed out, is to care for our common home.
“Our poorest brothers and mother earth lament for the damage and injustice we have caused, and demand we take another course.”
Therefore, the Pope underlined, it is important to recover the contemplative dimension.
When we do this, Pope Francis explained, people discover the intrinsic value of things given to them by God.
Speaking in off the cuff remarks, the Pope said that those who do not know how to contemplate nature and creation, do not know how to contemplate people in all their richness. And those who exploit nature, end up exploiting people and treating them like slaves. “This is a universal law,” he said.
“Those who know how to contemplate,” he continued, “will more easily set to work to change what produces degradation and damage to health. They will strive to educate and promote new production and consumption habits, to contribute to a new model of economic growth that guarantees respect for our common home.”
"Guardians" of creation
Those who follow the path of contemplation and caring, emphasized the Pope, “become ‘guardians’ of our common home, guardians of life and hope.” This is needed in order to preserve and protect our common home for future generations, he added.
In particular, he mentioned the indigenous peoples, to whom, he said, “we all owe a debt of gratitude.”
But the Pope also spoke of “those movements, associations, popular groups, which are committed to protecting their territory with its natural and cultural values. These social realities are not always appreciated, and at times they are even obstructed; but in reality they contribute to a peaceful revolution, the ‘revolution of care’”.
Concluding his catechesis, the Pope stressed that everyone has a role to play in caring for creation. “Each one of us can and must be a ‘guardian of the common home’, capable of praising God for His creatures, and of contemplating and protecting them.”