Votive candles lighting up a sacred space
In his encyclical letter on the environment, called Laudato Si’, Pope Francis writes: “it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, [but] nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image, and given dominion over the earth, justifies absolute domination over other creatures” (LS #67). Instead, Pope Francis urges us to build a “relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature” (ibid).
The first step toward building this new relationship is to reexamine the assumptions and values that we’ve taken for granted. This requires that we ask ourselves some fundamental questions. Does nature have intrinsic value? Does God love plants, animals, and ecosystems as much as God loves humans? Does the promise of new life extend to all God’s creatures?
Our age of ecological crisis is challenging us to act differently: to live more sustainably and to build social systems that prioritize the common good. But this crisis is also challenging us to think differently. We have an opportunity to expand our spiritual and moral imaginations, and to see the world with fresh eyes: eyes that see how everything that God creates is holy.