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Reform Magazine | September 19, 2017

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A Pope for the planet

A Pope for the planet

David Coleman listens to the primate on the climate

Reading Laudato si in a sitting or two, you have to pinch yourself from time to time to be reminded that this is not actually George MacLeod, founder of the Iona Community, writing, but rather Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the 78-year-old Bishop of Rome. The pope brings together: A determined, well-informed affirmation of the value of science and technological progress; an appreciation of faith and its active practice; a forthright denunciation of the hypocrisy and corruption of multinationals; the mysticism of the pope’s namesake St Francis, and of Bonaventure and John of the Cross, and a deeply hopeful belief that good things can be done in the face of the environmental – and therefore social – crisis of the world today.

The title of the encyclical is the opening of a prayer of St Francis, which the pope starts by quoting. If a measure of your character is how you treat your mother, and (poetry gets complicated) your sister, then humankind as a whole doesn’t come off well. Pope Francis continues:

“Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. ‘Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.’ This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.”..

David Coleman is a minister at Greenock West United Reformed Church

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This is an extract from the September 2015 edition of Reform.

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