A Few Thoughts on the Encyclical Laudato Si’

In thinking about how to respond to critics of the encyclical, Laudato Si’, I’ve come to the realization that their words have no substance. These people are beginning to sound like the passing away of an old order. Some of you may doubt this because you know that the financial powers who pay the critics have been successfully fighting sane environmental policies for decades, but I have the feeling their tyranny has run its course. My first piece of evidence would be Pope Francis’s encyclical. With the publication of this document we have a body of relevant and important things to talk about and to compare with the nonsense of the paid shills.

The encyclical covers many areas of concern and each of them should be discussed at length. To this end I think it’s important that we try to clear away any lingering doubt and cynicism. I don’t say this in the spirit of contention. I say it with hope and with the realization, and the conviction, that we have common ground.

I realize that many women still harbor reservations about the Church’s part in the struggle over reproductive rights. At the other extreme, I’m sure that when many of them consider the enormity of the world’s environmental problems, they will decide that the issue of reproductive rights is a small matter by comparison. I know enough about women to know that this is what they do. When things get tough, they put their own needs last. This is obviously a good trait, that is, until they start giving away the farm in order to save it. In my opinion, both extremes—cynicism and capitulation—pose a problem for the conversation.

I think the important thing here is to establish boundaries or minimal expectations in the interests of a genuine sharing of ideas. Pope Francis demonstrated in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium how this might be done when he set boundaries for the Church’s part in the conversation. (In previous posts I mistakenly called Evangelii Gaudium an encyclical. I’m correcting that now.)

I want to be clear that I don’t think capitulation is the Pope’s aim. On the contrary, I think he’s made a great effort to include women. But there will always be pressures on women that threaten to make them less effective than they need to be.

So where am I going with this? First, I would like to ask women to be aware of the difference between defense of life and domination of life. In my opinion, the defense of the unborn must be pursued in a way that is integral to the other issues discussed in the encyclical. The current coercive approach is not acceptable.

So this is one direction for further discussion. If you want me to be more specific it might be interesting to apply the process of setting boundaries to Chapter Five of Laudato Si’. The Pope recommends a ‘system of governance for the whole range of so-called Global Commons’. He points to the weakening power of nation states and the growing power of economic and financial sectors, which have made it increasingly difficult to protect the environment.

I realize the idea of global governance is a red flag for some people, however I’m taking it seriously for reasons that I will explain in future posts. For now I’ll say that what he is suggesting makes sense in view of the abuses that are going on in the world and which are not being adequately covered by the media, not to mention the persistent lack of preparedness for a growing population. But this is not the point I want to make at this time.

We are told that local people should have a voice regarding any new economic projects. This sounds to me like an opportunity for a new kind of representation. One concern however is that those with something to gain will eventually find a way to corrupt the process even if it takes decades. For example, the Mormon Church, a church that currently operates as an agribusiness giant, would love to be in charge of such a government. I know this will annoy them, but suspicion about that Church’s intentions is a natural result of its secrecy regarding its business affairs. It’s in their power to correct that situation. Here are some rules that might guard against corruption in global governance of the global commons. These are rules that I wish we had in our present political system.

1. There should be no opportunities for personal enrichment; Representation should be a
duty and obligation with compensation limited to time and expenses.

2. There should be reasonable term limits

3. Our system of education should have the goal of preparing everyone to fulfill this
obligation if necessary.

4. Eligibility for representation should be limited to the children of native or local
women. This would guard against infiltration by foreign adventurers.
The criteria for being considered ‘local’ would have to be established.

5. The son or daughter of a representative would not be eligible. This
would guard against the formation of dynasties.

6. A representative should have no financial interests that conflict with the
interests of his or her community.

Concerning number 4 above, I think that when a woman’s childbearing role is paired with its logical functions in society, a number of social problems will disappear without coercion. And some form of matrilineal succession is the only method I’m aware of capable of maintaining the integrity of a community. This kind of system could probably operate within the world’s existing hierarchies.

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