In a meeting with Catholic schoolteachers Friday, Pope Francis urged his hearers to instill in their students an “ecological education” that will lead in turn to an “ecological ethics.”
Drawing from his teaching letter on the environment, Laudato Sì, the Pope told the gathering of Italian Catholic educators that a true ecological education goes beyond a few notions regarding the environment and gives birth to “a lifestyle based on an attitude of care for creation, our common home.”
This ecological lifestyle should not be “schizophrenic” but “integral,” Francis said, in reference to an encompassing ethical worldview that embraces the needs of humanity as well as those of nature.
Examples of environmentalism becoming “schizophrenic,” he said, would be when people “take care of animals in danger of extinction but ignore the problems of the elderly, or defend the Amazon forest but neglect the rights of workers to a just salary.”
A true ecology should blossom into a “sense of responsibility,” he continued, “not repeating slogans for other people to practice, but giving rise to the joy of experiencing an ecological ethics beginning with gestures of one’s daily life.”
Catholic teachers should aim at inculcating in their students “the sort of behavior that from the Christian perspective finds meaning and motivation in a relationship with God the Creator and Redeemer, with Jesus Christ as the center of the cosmos and history, with the Holy Spirit, the source of harmony in the symphony of creation,” he said.
In 2015 Francis became the first pope in history to devote an encyclical letter to the topic of the environment, a move that won him both praise and criticism.
The earth “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,” Francis wrote.
“We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life,” he said.
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