In a rare recognition of the abuses of radical environmentalism, Pope Francis condemned the immanentism of a form of ecology that refuses to look beyond creation to discover the glory of its Creator.
In his homily at morning Mass Friday, the Pope drew inspiration from the Bible readings of the day, reminding Christians that “the heavens declare the glory of God” and that only His glory and beauty last forever.
“Never fall into the idolatry of immanentism,” Francis warned his small congregation gathered in the Saint Martha chapel, but aim “always beyond.” He added, “From immanence look to transcendence.”
The day’s reading from the Book of Wisdom condemns nature worship, cautioning those who allow themselves to be distracted by the beauty of creation: “Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them,” it reads. And again, for those impressed by the might and energy of creation, “let them from these things realize how much more powerful is He who made them.”
The Pope said that the reading points out “the mistake of those people who in these beautiful things are unable to look beyond them to transcendence.”
These people “have not recognized that this beauty is a sign of another greater beauty that lies ahead,” he said, “the beauty of God.”
People then and now, Francis continued, are fascinated by the beauty of the things created by God “and come to take them for gods.” This, he warned, is the “idolatry of immanence.”
The basic flaw here, Francis said, lies in mistaking the masterpiece for the Artist, and failing to acknowledge that their Creator is so much greater than they are because “the One who made them is the source and author of beauty.”
The Pope also reminded his hearers that all the beautiful things of the earth are destined to perish, and only eternity remains.
“It is an idolatry to look at the many beautiful things without thinking that there will be a sunset,” he said, and so people become “attached to the beautiful things here, without transcendence.”
This, Francis said, is the idolatry of immanence: we believe that things are “almost gods” and will never end.
In his homily, Francis also warned against getting too comfortable in this life and forgetting that we are far from our true home, where we are destined to be with God in eternity.
The Church, he said, “makes us look to the end of these things,” especially as the liturgical year comes to an end, turning to the meditation of eternal truths.