By: Joseph Wenderski, ’16
Corresponding from France is an exciting manifestation of the Church’s universality. Being abroad enables one to partake in the same Catholic Faith and tradition as one’s peers, yet observe the distinct cultural differences between countries. Over time, the Church has developed certain key points or tenets regarding the various applications faith. Of contemporary concern, ecology has undergone a renewed focus within Catholicism. Mainstream media and environmentalists are not the only ones concerned with preserving God’s awesome creation.
According to the Vatican’s official news network, the beloved Pope Francis has taken the matter to heart, having begun to write on the topic as of January 2014. These forthcoming texts could potentially become an encyclical to better articulate the Church’s perspective on this critical matter. By definition, ecology is the study of actors within an environment. Whether their impacts are positive or negative, it is still implied that respect and balance are of the utmost importance–squandering a gift is rather undesirable.
However, the Church does not merely express itself concerning the extrinsic environment. In keeping with its tradition, she has linked ecology to the heart and condition of the human person. During his papacy, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI articulated the need for a human ecology of manifold tenets. Mankind is a significant force in the environment, which consequently necessitates its responsibility to limit detriments and augment contributions to the earth. Yet, there is also the question of the ecology relating to the human person.
Human ecology extends this respect and balance to each person, as he or she possesses an inherent dignity of the utmost importance. This is arguably the reason for which Pope Francis is choosing to clarify and cement the Catholic Church’s stance.
There may be another reason, however, for which Pope Francis has chosen the topic. February 2, 2014 (my arrival date) saw the assembly of over 1,000,000 French gathered in Paris (according to my journalist host mother, Elisabeth de Baudoüin) for the cause of human ecology. Led by an organization called Manif Pour Tous, the march was branded as a protest against the state recognition of homosexual unions. However, to call it a strictly anti-gay movement would be both incorrect and ignorant. As per their ethics charter, it is a constructive, nonviolent, grassroots movement, focusing on the respect of the human person, without homophobia. Though many members are Catholic, it is not exclusive to any denomination. The group maintains effectively the same teaching as the Church—that, as an orientation, homosexuality is not immoral–yet acting to these ends draws moral implications. Thus, for the dignity and respect of all either explicitly or implicitly involved, homosexual unions and acts cannot be condoned.
So, if and when it is published, Pope Francis’ work should enlighten and clarify this topic for Catholics, as well as the greater world. His words should be welcomed as a liaison, bridging the gap of ignorance around the “homosexual debate.” Moreover, it must serve as a point of progress and unification in a time seemingly devoid of love and dignity. With love and dignity comes a functioning ecology of the extrinsic and intrinsic world, enabling Christ to live and flourish amongst all.