El Papa issues an encyclical on the environment and our shared responsibility. He acknowledges human contribution to global warming in recent decades, and advocates ways in which we can tend to that (and those) which we have neglected. With poetry and prose, and scientific backing, he sternly urges all people to pay attention to “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for us all.” His assessment continues with connecting the environmental crisis to human and social degradation, as the poorest suffer the most. Beyond vanishing coral reefs and other plant and animal species, we are creating unhealthy and unsustainable conditions for our own species. El Papa urges conscientious actions and transforming our lifestyles toward environmental stewardship and being responsible to our entire world of humans and other animal and plant species.
Jeb! issues a statement in response to the (leaked) encyclical, “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.” Bush, a devout Catholic, says that religion “ought to be about making us better as people, less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”
REALLY???? Isn’t the Pope encouraging all people to be better, through attention and care of the earth and each other? El Papa’s message is a moral message for everyone. And yes, it has profound economic implications that have been ignored for too long, and we are beginning to reap the consequences.
Jeb!’s response seems rather rich from the guy who, as governor, intervened in the Terri Schiavo case, deciding that Schiavo’s feeding tube should be reinstated, appeasing so-called pro-life supporters. Just 2 days ago, on the heels of issuing his response to The Pope’s encyclical, Jeb! proudly reminded an audience at the Faith and Freedom conference of his role in the Terri Schiavo case saying that he “stood on the side of Terri Schiavo.” (Except, of course, he stood on the side of her parents and others—not on the side of Terri Schiavo or her desperate husband.)
While Jeb! issues statements on issues that, at best, don’t inspire, he seems to have an issue with his name. He has replaced Bush with ! Although seeming to distinguish himself more from his brother than from his father, he is struggling to find a way to be the one to move us forward.
Of course, the two issues that blindside us each time they occur (and they occur with frequency) are murdering innocents and racism. This time they converge. The massacre is in a church—The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Dylan Roof, 21, sits among members of a Bible study group in the historic black church, and after about an hour, opens fire, killing 9 members, including the pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pichney. It is soon revealed that Roof espouses racist views of so-called white supremacy. He is arrested for this hate crime and charged in the killings.
We have been struggling with these issues of seemingly out of control violence, especially gun violence against innocents—sometimes singular, sometimes massacres, and we have been seeing racism especially as it pertains to law enforcement. These issues of extreme violence, especially with guns, and racism—perhaps more insidious than in previous generations—continue to cause profound disturbances and grief, yet little action beyond social media attention.
We may celebrate the work and wisdom of our fathers today, and acknowledge how much they have given us, but each generation must also forge ahead, and see what isn’t working and face it and change it. The Pope has shown us that we can use our knowledge and wisdom and character (as well as spiritual life) to better our world and restore ecosystems. We can affect our environment. We can change the climate. Literally and figuratively.
We won’t be able to prevent every disaster—natural or human, but we can do more. We can change gun laws, and how we deal with psychological and social ills. We can be conscientious. We can take down flags that are remnants of racist history, that have no place in the 21st century.
We can celebrate our dads by practicing what the great dads teach—that actions (and inactions) have consequences—intended and unintended. We have issues to address. This Father’s Day, embrace your father, and El Papa’s message to us to take conscientious actions to better our world.
Happy Father’s Day!