Friday, July 31, 2015

Envrionment And Laudatio Si

In both Korean Catholic weeklies we have articles and a interview with a  married couple who are  well known in environmental studies. Professor Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim who are co-directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, and are giving lectures on ecology, while here in Korea. Both are disciples of the well known Thomas Berry, a priest who was a leader in the field of ecology, and who felt the whole issue was a spiritual one.

Why do you think the Laudatio Si  was an important encyclical?

Mary: The  encyclical is an important milestone in our present history,and addressed to all humanity. We have the three Es: Equality,Ecology and Economy that have been joined into one. She mentions the popes have been stressing the concern  we need to have for the  universe and  mentions how the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew has called the harm done to the environment a sin.

John:  Laudatio Si gives us a new way of seeing-- a new perspective. We can find happiness without the unlimited consumerism of our society. This is the reason Pope Francis talks a great deal about poverty and simplicity. It is not a return to the stone age but the way to raise up those who are in extreme poverty. We are looking at the universe as a whole.

What is necessary to make the message of the encyclical have universal validity and be persuasive?

Mary: As a couple we wrote the book: Journey of the Universe. When we realize how long it took humanity to appear on the face of the earth, we can't help but be amazed and see the beauty and be renewed in wanting to naturally protect this life-- wondering at the beauty of life.

John: According to Fr.Thomas Berry who speaks about our relation to the culture, in each culture there are common and different elements. When religion and culture meet they don't  become one but they replenish each other to  become  more complete. It is our task and challenge to show the universal validity and persuasiveness of this thinking. 

What is the responsibility of the Church?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
Mary: Without regard to existence or non-existence we are a part of nature. Once we understand this our thinking will change.  Forests, fish, mountains and many aspects of nature have taken billions of years to appear-- why do we want to destroy them we belong to them?

John: Three persons were carrying stones to build one of the Gothic Cathedrals and were  asked what were they doing. One answered he was carrying stones. Another  said he was building a wall and the third  said he was building a cathedral.  We should also see the big picture we are not just recycling and protecting the environment but helping the planet.

We are related but what do you think should be our Asian perspective and our Asian theology?

Mary: Asia  modernized very quickly. We need to examine what this quick development has done to the environment. Two thirds of the world's population lives in Asia. What is done in one area is going to affect the other areas . The pollution in China is a concern of Korea.  The central theme of the encyclical is the oneness of ecology. In Asia we have  heaven the father, mother earth, and humans. In Asia we do not have divisions but participation in the universe.

John: Many Eco-theologians in their own way describe our relation with nature and the universe. We save the things we love. In answer to all this one can respond: we only need to go to church. However the times in which we live  are  asking much more:   climate is changing, oceans are rising, and we are destroying the top soil etc.;  we are called to get involved. 

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