‘The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.’

HAVANA — The headline above is a direct quote from Pope Francis in his first encyclical letter, titled Laudato Si (Praise Be to Thee), written entirely by him. In the history of Papal encyclicals, it features the topic of the earth as inseparable from man — a concept known in South America as Pachamama — and the commitment of all of its inhabitants in the integral solution of the disaster in which we are immersed.

“These situations have caused sister earth, along with all the abandoned of our world, to cry out, pleading that we take another course. Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years,” Francis writes.

Later, he say that the earth “now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. […] We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth.”

Realistic, visionary, prophetic, wholly committed to the poor, the letter will be very controversial, even for many members of the different Catholic Bishops Conferences that exist in practically all countries and for numerous Catholics and Christians in general. Even more so for a great majority of the world powers.

“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system, where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment,” Bergoglio points out, adding: “The lessons of the global financial crisis have not been assimilated, and we are learning all too slowly the lessons of environmental deterioration.”

The Bishop of Rome does not stop there and calls for a transformation of the thought that inevitably leads to an urgent search for a new lifestyle. That is why he calls for a revolution of thought and, of course, of our lifestyles.

“All of this shows the urgent need for us to move forward in a bold cultural revolution. […] When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself. Everything is connected.”

To read the entire encyclical letter, as released in English by the Vatican, click here.