Understanding Pope Francis on “The Common Destination of Goods”
In this chapter of Laudato Si’ Pope Francis has directed his words towards “believers,” those of us who follow Christ and call ourselves Christians. And as we look at the final two sections of Chapter 2, he points us to the Catholic social teaching of the universal destination of goods and finally to what he titles, “The Gaze of Jesus.”
The Earth is a Gift to All
The first paragraph of this section (Paragraph 93) is by far the longest and it’s where the Pope spends the majority of his time emphasizing that the earth was created for all people and its “fruits are meant to benefit everyone.” This, in a nutshell, is the main idea behind the Church’s teaching on “the universal destination of goods” which affirms the stewardship of the earth for all people in order to provide for our families and others in cooperation with God’s plan for creation.
Francis shares strong words from St. Pope John Paul II on this topic to mark his point, “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favouring anyone.”
No One Should Be Denied
He elaborates further in the second paragraph (Paragraph 94) with quotes from scripture on the dignity of ALL human life given to us by our creator, emphasizing that our dignity as humans is not more for some and less for others.
This God-given human dignity together with the gift of our common home for sustenance gives all people a “natural right to possess” land for a home and the opportunity to work and care for our families.
Related Post: Do Christians Have to Be Green & Eco-friendly?
Overconsumption Has Consequences
Pope Francis then completes this section (Paragraph 95) with the commandment “Thou shall not kill” brought to question and consideration by the bishops of New Zealand. They point out that the consequences of over-consumption by a small part of the population leaves us a world that “robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive.”
What Does It Mean for You and Me?
In his article at the CatholicCuluture.org titled, “Now and Tomorrow: The Universal Destination of Goods,” Dr. Jeff Mirus takes a closer look at the Church’s social teaching on the universal destination of goods then challenges us to ask ourselves the question, “How do we ‘exercise our own personal dominion over creation in such a way that provides for our own needs and benefits others,’?” Do we only give from our surplus in hopes to get something out of it (tax credit) or do we expect the government to solve all of the world’s social inequalities?
How Can We Make a Difference?
Although Dr. Mirus admits that there is no one right answer for everyone, he emphasizes that “effort to live the Church’s social teaching starts at home.” Each one of us needs to look at the way we live and decide if the way we are giving, sharing, and “exercising our dominion” over the earth brings glory to God our creator?
Next time, we will finish Chapter 2 of the encyclical with the section Pope Francis titles, “The Gaze of Jesus.” Until then, if you’ve missed any of the posts in the study, you can see them all at the Laudato Si’ series page here.
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