Friday, August 7, 2015

Laudato Si': A critique of Pope Francis' encyclical from the ecofeminist theological perspective

These are the prepared notes for an address that was given at the Foro de Análisis sobre la Encíclica Laudato Si on July 8, 2015 and are available in the original Spanish from Amerindiaenlared.

By Marilú Rojas Salazar (English translation by Rebel Girl)

1. Overview

The document mentions eco-theology as part of the tradition and social teaching of the Church (LS 3,4 and 5), which is very commendable because for 50 years the future of creation has been one of the concerns shown in the documents of Francis' papal predecessors. Thus we are challenged to develop a new theology of creation.

The various bishops conferences -- Latin America, Finland, Germany, USA, Canada, Brazil, among others -- are incorporated into the document as part of the Magisterium. It's the first time the conception of what the Magisterium is has been opened up, and it doesn't just focus on the contribution of Eurocentric thinking.

The author challenges anthropocentrism and questions the view of human beings -- males, specifically -- as the center of the universe. He denounces despotic anthropocentrism, which is in force today (LS 68). We ecofeminists have already proposed a "cosmoteohumana" ["cosmo-theological-human"] and not just an anthropocentric view. [1] Because that view has given rise to a relationship of domination by men towards what has traditionally been understood as the 'natural' world, from which man has separated himself to put himself in the world of 'reason'.

He argues for ecology to be understood simply within the parameters of an 'irrational romanticism', in the same way ecofeminism has also often been characterized as an idealistic and romantic line. (LS 11)

Conversion is understood in the document as a return to the common good and universal solidarity (LS 14). We are all responsible for the ethics of caring, not just women.

It's an encyclical directed at all people -- believers or not -- and a dialogue is opened with everyone (LS 64).

It returns to the mystical as life's joy.

Structure of the encyclical

  • Analysis of the ecological crisis (see)
  • Shedding a light from the Judeo-Christian perspective (think)
  • The roots of the current crisis (think)
  • Ecological proposal (act)
  • Pastoral lines of action (act)

2. Most relevant content

The document begins by criticizing the throwaway culture, understood as marginalization, exclusion and exploitation. It questions the fact that there isn't yet a circular model of production that ensures resources for all and for future generations (LS 22).

It addresses the problem of migration, the effects on the poorest in the context of the exploitation of the environment. Not as an isolated phenomenon, but as a result of a lack of a circular pattern of production.

The water problem as the conflict of the century and the result of which will be the rising cost of living and the impossibility of survival for the poorest (LS 30-31). It criticizes finance and consumerism as the main things responsible for the devastation of the land (LS 34). It charges that a proper study of biodiversity and impacts on it hasn't been made.

The degradation of the human world and the global inequality have made the excluded become just a compulsory subject or agenda, but they still remain in last place (LS 49). It exhorts us to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor (Leonardo Boff).

The problem of inequity as a global problem and not just an individual one, is raised (LS 51). And the foreign debt is called ecological debt. The trade relations system is called a perverse. The failure of world summits on the environment is denounced (LS 51-54).

The marriage between economics and technology is an unholy alliance. They ignore human dignity and the environment. They engage in wars disguised as vindications. The encyclical denounces force that doesn't solve anything, and the creation of a superficial ecology.

The encyclical reminds me of the O.T. prophets of doom who proclaimed it so much that nobody believed them or they silenced them, and the same thing could happen with the proclamation of impending ecological devastation. Environmentalists and eco-theologians are now the prophets of doom of post-modernity, including Francis.

It insists on recovering the contributions of the theology of creation. Humans have three relationship axes -- with God, with others, and with the earth. In number 67 of the encyclical, Francis clearly distances himself from pantheism. And he clarifies that the relationship of domination should be changed into relationships of brother- and sisterhood.

There are more biblical than doctrinal foundations. Other creatures, not just humans, are characterized as individuals (LS 82). Teilhard de Chardin's proposition is incorporated and updated. Francis intertwines justice, peace and the preservation of creation as an interrelated whole.

The document highlights aesthetics in dialogue with theology (LS 103). Strong criticism is made of power over or domination of modern man (LS 104-105). New paradigms and a spirituality of resistance are suggested, in addition to alerting us to people's skepticism about a better or happier future, and it urges a cultural revolution. The impossibility and inadequacy of reason to account for reality and love is noted (LS 115). Not only is the failure of reason proclaimed, but it also denounces those who think that caring for nature is for the weak. Francis proposes changing from anthropocentrism to biocentrism.

It denounces that work doesn't give human beings dignity (LS 129). The immanence of the Trinity in all of creation (LS 239-240). It proposes a culture of caring for society and living a happy sobriety that isn't poverty (LS 225). It calls for training in responsible austerity in line with caring for the poor. The document's denunciation is directed at having too many means and meager ends. There aren't two crises, but one -- the socio-environmental one. Hegemonic lifestyles are criticized. It recognizes indigenous peoples' communities as major partners and those most affected by ecological destruction, as well as the poor.

A call for international solidarity and seeing the world as a common project, recognizing our interdependence .. That those who pollute more ought to pay more, not poor countries (LS 170). It invites an honest and transparent debate between policy, economics and environment summits to create other ways to grow (LS 192) and change the model of global development (194). It denounces corruption in politics.

It calls for living out a contemplative prophetic spirituality of ecology and ecological conversion is explained as a dynamic of lasting change and as community conversion.

3. Weak points of the encyclical

The gender issue is completely omitted, when women are among the most vulnerable groups because of being associated with the natural world, and now that eco-justice is being addressed, women are still being made invisible in the ecological agenda. Thus it appears that the ecological agenda comes first as a concern of the Church before the situation of women.

No progress is made on the issue of reproductive health, because the same arguments about birth control are still maintained, holding with traditional thinking. (LS 50)

Traditional masculine and feminine stereotypes are still maintained.

[1]Ivone Gebara, Intuiciones ecofeministas. Ensayo para repensar el conocimiento y la religión (Madrid: Trotta, 2004).

No comments:

Post a Comment