On Thursday, the Pope released his latest encyclical, Laudato si' (On Care For Our Common Home) which focuses on climate change, its effect on the poor and the moral responsibility of the church to respond. There was some debate outside of the church whether the Pope should be speaking about scientific matters. The church should have a leading role in caring for creation as that is the commission God gave to His people from the beginning of creation (Gen. 1:28). This commission along with the unique relationship to God and the creative qualities bestowed upon humanity of freedom, knowledge, and will set humanity in a distinct position over and above the rest of the created order.
The document decries humanity’s abuse of power which has led to the neglect and destruction of creation. Pope Francis lays blame on an incorrect theology whereby there “was a Promethean vision of mastery over the world, which gave the impression that the protection of nature was something that only the faint-hearted cared about” (116). At best, we are guilty of neglecting care for the world and at worst we are guilty of exploiting the world for our benefit/amusement.
The Christian church is in the business of relationship; the vertical relationship between humanity and God and the horizontal relationship that exists among humans. God is renewing and restoring these relationships as we the church proclaim the renewal of relationship through the blood of Jesus to a world that is broken, hurting, and destructive. Until all relationships are fully restored at the return of Christ when the whole earth becomes God’s dwelling place, the world will continue to suffer the effects of sin and brokenness.
Thanks be to God that He is working restoration, healing, and hope in the world through us His people. While the ecological crisis we are facing may seem daunting, the church’s task is to proclaim the healing that comes through Christ Jesus alone and to live out our creation mandate of being faithful stewards of God’s creation.