“We are called to qualified action that asks everyone for generosity and gratuitousness to respond to the cultural context that awaits its real challenges, accuracy and ability to confront,” His Holiness Pope Francis said in his speech at the Pontifical Lateran University, inaugurating a new course in ecology and ecology.
This morning, Pope Francis chaired an academic meeting at the Pontifical Lateran University in which he launched a new course in ecology and ecology with the participation of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and Audrey Azoulay, Director of UNESCO. It also aims to lay the foundations for an open and organized dialogue, with everyone, on how we know and listen to the voice of our common home, which we are asked to preserve and take care of. Protecting creation is a method of loving, gradual transition from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is freedom from fear, greed, and addiction.
Today, common thinking as disciples of Christ has managed to penetrate many contexts by bringing together often distant interests, such as in the context of international organizations, and special multilateral conferences dedicated to different sectors or ecosystems. In this perspective, for example, is the letter that we have now prepared with Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Justin Welby, in light of the date of COP26 in Glasgow. I think we all know this: the damage we do to the planet is no longer limited to damage to the climate, water and soil, but now it threatens life on Earth. In this regard, it is not enough to repeat the principles, which make us feel that all is well because, among other things, we also care about the environment. Indeed, the complexity of the ecological crisis requires responsibility, vitality and competence.
These are the choices that remind the university of its original mission, as a privileged place to nurture and prepare people, where different knowledges meet, and where students and teachers come together to think of new paths to be followed and creatively developed. From the university also passes the effort to raise environmental awareness and develop research in order to protect the common home. Academic activity is thus called upon to promote an integrated ecological regression in order to preserve the splendor of nature, first by reconstructing the necessary unity between the natural and social sciences with the offerings of theological, philosophical and ethical reflection, so as to inspire a legal basis and a sound economic vision.
Today’s meeting will also witness a representation at the highest level of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which is designated to preserve the world’s cultural and natural heritage and to promote science in its dynamism, especially through education. I thank UNESCO for the interest it has shown to this initiative with the launch of a study track on the future of sustainability education. This is the spirit, assumptions and intent that has been entrusted to the new course of studies in ecology and ecology that is being born today at this university. As she also enters the march towards full ecclesial communion, she will work with the see of the Apostle Andrew, with an open perspective, and a great spirit capable of accepting the interest of the Christian churches, the various religious groups, those who seek God and those who declare themselves to be unbelievers. Thus, it must be a meeting point for contemplation around an integrated ecology, capable of bringing together different experiences and ideas, and bringing them together through a scientific research method. In this way the university appears not only as an expression of the unity of knowledge, but also as a guardian of a commandment that knows no religious, ideological, or cultural boundaries: to protect and preserve our common home from scandalous and evil acts, which may be inspired by politics, economics, or upbringing with immediate results, in favor of a certain minority.
The Holy Father added that expectations regarding sustainable development goals to be achieved by 2030 are moving away, as well as more specific goals related to protecting air, water, climate or combating desertification. Perhaps because we have associated these goals only with a cause-and-effect relationship, perhaps in the name of efficacy, and we have forgotten that there is no ecology without a proper anthropology. Without a true integrated ecology we will have a new dysfunction that will not solve the problems but will add other problems. Thus, the idea of a special studies course will serve to transform the concern for the environment, even among believers, into a mission carried out by established people, as a result of an appropriate educational experience. This is the greatest responsibility towards those who have been excluded, abandoned and forgotten due to environmental degradation. A work to which the churches, by their invitation, and every person of good will are called, to make all the necessary contribution, and to make themselves the voice of the voiceless, a voice that rises above the interests of the parties and does not remain mere murmuring.
Pope Francis concluded his speech by saying to the academic community of the Lateran University, with all its components, I encourage them to continue, with humility and perseverance, in the face of the signs of the times. A position that requires openness, creativity, and offers of a broader upbringing, but also sacrifice, commitment, transparency and integrity in choices, especially at this difficult time. Let’s categorically abandon the “we’ve always done this”, which discredits us because it generates superficiality and answers that only work outwardly. We are called to qualified action that asks everyone for generosity and gratuitousness to respond to the cultural context that awaits its challenges of realism, accuracy and capacity for confrontation. May God fill us with his tenderness and pour the power of his love on our path, so that we may sow beauty and not pollution and destruction.