Full English Translation of Pope Francis' Climate and Environmental Encyclical, 'Laudato Si': Chapter Five

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 18 Jun 2015 04:06:00 GMT

The leaked draft of “Laudato Si’”, Pope Francis’ widely anticipated encyclical on the crisis of climate change and other global environmental concerns, contains 146 numbered paragraphs contained within a preface and six chapters. The translation below from the original Italian is very rough, a Google translation amended by Brad Johnson.


Table of Contents


163. I tried to examine the current situation of humanity, both in the corners of the planet we inhabit, as well in the more deeply human causes of environmental degradation. Although this contemplation of reality in itself already shows us the need for a change of course and suggests some actions, let us now outline the major paths of dialogue that will help us to escape the spiral of self-destruction into which we are sinking.

I. The dialogue on the environment in international politics

164. Since the middle of last century, overcoming many difficulties, we have been affirming a tendency to conceive of the world as a fatherland and humanity as a people inhabiting a common home. An interdependent world means not only understanding that the harmful consequences of lifestyles, of production, and of consumption affect everyone, but, primarily, to ensure that solutions are proposals from a global perspective and not only in defense of the interests of some countries. Interdependence forces us to think of one world, a common project. But the same intelligence used for a huge technological development, cannot find effective forms of international governance in order to overcome the serious environmental and social problems. To address the underlying problems, which cannot be solved by actions of individual countries, it is essential that a global consensus will lead, for example, to planning sustainable and diversified agriculture, to developing renewable, nonpolluting forms of energy, to encouraging greater energy efficiency, to promoting better management of forest resources and marine, to ensuring that everyone has access to clean water.

165. We know that the technology based on fossil fuels, highly polluting – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser extent, natural gas – must be replaced progressively and without delay. Pending a wide development of renewable energy, which should already be started, it is legitimate to opt for the lesser evil or to resort to temporary solutions. However, the international community does not reach appropriate agreements about the responsibility of those who have to bear the higher costs of energy transition. In recent decades, environmental issues have given rise to a broad public debate, which has grown into civil society spaces of considerable commitment and generous dedication. Politics and industry are slow to respond, far from being up to the global challenges. In this sense we can say that, while the humanity of the post-industrial period will probably be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, there is hope that the humanity of the early twenty-first century will be remembered for having assumed with generosity their grave responsibilities.

166. The ecological movement worldwide has already come a long way, enriched by the effort of many civil society organizations. It would be impossible to mention them all here, or to trace the history of their contributions. But thanks to a lot of effort, environmental issues have been increasingly present on the public agenda and have become a standing invitation to think in the long term. Nevertheless, the world summits on the environment in recent years have not met expectations because, for lack of political decision, they did not achieve really significant and effective global environmental agreements.

167. The Earth Summit held in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro should be remembered. In that meeting, it was stated that “human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development.” [126 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (14 June 1992), Principle 1.] Taking some contents of the Stockholm Declaration (1972), it established, among other things, international cooperation for the care of the ecosystem of the whole earth, the obligation on the part of polluters to take responsibility economically, the duty to assess the environmental impact of each work or project. It proposed the objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to reverse the trend of global warming. It also prepared an agenda with a program of action and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and declared principles relating to forestry. Although the summit was truly innovative and prophetic for his time, the agreements have had a low level of implementation because they have not established adequate control mechanisms, periodic verification or sanctions for non-compliance. The principles continue to require agile and effective ways of practical realization.

168. Among the positive experiences can be mentioned, for example, the Basel Convention on hazardous waste, with a notification system, to set levels and controls; as well as the binding Convention on international trade in species of wild fauna and flora threatened with extinction, which provides verification missions of effective implementation. Thanks to the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer and its implementation by the Montreal Protocol and its amendments, the problem of thinning of this layer seems to have entered a phase of solution.

169. With regard to care for biological diversity and desertification, progress has been much less significant. With regard to climate change, progress is woefully sketchy. The reduction of greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, especially by the most powerful countries and the most polluting. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio + 20 (Rio de Janeiro 2012), issued a broad but ineffective Final Declaration. International negotiations may not advance significantly because of the positions of the countries that favor their national interests over the global common good. How many will suffer the consequences that we try to cover up, remembering this lack of awareness and responsibility. As I was elaborating this encyclical, the debate has taken on a special intensity. We believe we can only pray to God for the positive developments of the current discussions, so that future generations do not suffer the consequences of imprudent delay.

170. Some of the strategies for low emission of polluting gases point to the internalization of environmental costs, with the danger of imposing on countries with less heavy commitments on emission reductions, similar to those of most industrialized countries. The imposition of these measures penalize countries in need of development. In this way it adds a new injustice under the cover of the care for the environment. Also in this case, it always rains on the soaked. Since the effects of climate change will be felt for a long time, although now it would take strict measures, some countries with limited resources will need help to adapt to the effects that are already producing and affect their economies. It remains certain that there are common but differentiated responsibilities, simply because, as the bishops said in Bolivia, “the countries that have benefited from a high level of industrialization, at the cost of enormous greenhouse gas emissions, have greater responsibility contribute to solving the problems that have caused. “[127 Bolivian Episcopal Conference, Pastoral Letter on the environment and human development in Bolivia El Universo, Don de Dios para la Vida (2012), 86.]

171. The strategy for the sale of “carbon credits” can give rise to a new form of speculation and would not help to reduce the global emission of polluting gases. This system seems to be quick and easy, with the appearance of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way implies a radical change to the occasion. Indeed, it may be a device that permits support for the super-consumption of some countries and sectors.

172. For poor countries the priority should be the eradication of poverty and social development of their inhabitants; at the same time they should consider the outrageous level of consumption of certain privileged sectors of their population and better counter corruption. Of course, also they need to develop less-polluting forms of energy production, but for this they need to count on the help of the countries that have grown at the expense of much current pollution of the planet. The direct exploitation of the abundant solar energy requires the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies so that developing countries can have access to technology transfer, for technical assistance and financial resources, while always paying attention to the concrete conditions, since “it is not always properly assessed the compatibility of the systems with the context for which they are designed. “[128 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Energy, Justice and Peace, IV, 1, Vatican City (2013), 56.] Costs would be low when compared to the risk of climate change. In any case, it is first of all an ethical choice, based on the solidarity of all peoples.

173. Urgent international agreements that will be realized, considering the limited capacity of local bodies to intervene effectively. Relations between States must safeguard the sovereignty of each, but also agree to establish paths to avoid local disasters that would end up hurting everyone. Global regulatory frameworks are needed imposing obligations and excluding unacceptable actions, such as the fact that powerful countries and highly polluting industries discharge waste into other countries.

174. We also mention the system of governance of the oceans. In fact, although there have been several international and regional conventions, the fragmentation and the lack of strict regulatory mechanisms, control and sanction end up undermining all efforts. The growing problem of marine refuse and the protection of marine areas beyond national borders continues to represent a special challenge. Ultimately, we need an agreement on the governance arrangements for the full range of so-called global commons.

175. The same logic that makes it difficult to take drastic action to reverse the trend of global warming is the one that does not allow us to achieve the goal of eradicating poverty. We need a more responsible global reaction, which involves tackling simultaneously reduction of pollution and development of the countries and poor regions. The twenty-first century, while keeping its governance of past eras, is witnessing a loss of power of the United States, especially because the economic and financial dimension, with transnational character, tends to dominate policy. In this context, it becomes essential to the development of stronger and efficiently organized international institutions, with authorities designated in an impartial manner through agreements between national governments, and with the power to sanction. As Benedict XVI said in the line already developed by the social doctrine of the Church, “to manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis, to prevent deterioration of the present and the greater imbalances; to achieve integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration, there is urgent need of a true world political authority, which has already been outlined by my predecessor, [St.] John XXIII. “[129 Benedict XVI, Enc. Lett. Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 67: AAS 101 (2009), 700. 177. 136] In this perspective, diplomacy acquires a new importance, in order to promote international strategies to prevent the most serious problems that end up affecting us all.

II. Dialogue on new national and local policies

176. Not only are there winners and losers among the countries, but also within poor countries, where one has to identify different responsibilities. Therefore, environmental issues and economic development can no longer be set only from the differences between the countries, but demand paying attention to national and local policies.

177. Faced with the possibility of an irresponsible use of human capacities, they are functions of the imperative requirement of each state to plan, coordinate, monitor and punish within their territories. How does society order and maintain its development in a context of constant technological innovations? One factor that acts as the moderator is the actual law, laying down the rules for the conduct permitted in the light of the common good. The limits that must impose a healthy society, mature and sovereign are related to prediction and precaution, appropriate regulations, monitoring the application of rules, dealing with corruption, actions of operational control on the emergence of undesirable effects of production processes, and intervention appropriate in the face of uncertain risks or potential. There is a growing case law geared at reducing the polluting effects of the business activities. But the political and institutional structure does not exist only to avoid the bad practices, but to encourage good practice, to stimulate creativity that seeks new ways to facilitate personal and collective initiatives.

178. The predicament of a policy focused on immediate results, supported also by consumerist populations, is necessary to produce short-term growth. Responding to electoral interests, governments do not dare to easily irritate the population with measures that may affect the level of consumption or jeopardize foreign investment. The short-sighted construction of power constrains the insertion of a forward-looking environmental agenda within the public agenda of governments. We forget that “the time is greater than the space” [130 Apostolic. ap. Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 222: AAS 105 (2013), 1111], that we are more and more fruitful if we care to generate processes, rather than to dominate spaces of power. Political greatness shows itself when, in difficult times, it operates on the basis of great principles and thinking about the common good in the long term. Political power makes it hard to accept this duty in a project of the Nation.

179. In some places, they are developing cooperatives for the exploitation of renewable energy that enable local self-sufficiency and even the sale of excess production. This simple example shows that, while the existing world order shows itself powerless to assume responsibility, the local instance can make a difference. It is fact that there can arise a greater responsibility, a strong sense of community, a special ability to care and a more generous creativity, a deep love for their land, as well as thinking about what you leave for our children and grandchildren. These values have very deep roots in aboriginal populations. Since the law at times, proves inadequate because of corruption, it requires a political decision under the pressure of the population. Society, through non-governmental organizations and intermediary associations, must require governments to develop policies, procedures and stricter controls. If citizens do not control political power – national, regional and municipal – it is not possible to contain environmental damage. On the other hand, the municipal laws may be more effective if there are agreements between neighboring populations to support the same environmental policies.

180. One cannot think of uniform prescriptions, because there are issues and limitations specific to each country and region. It is also true that political realism can involve transitional measures and technologies, provided they are accompanied by the design and gradual acceptance of binding commitments. At the same time, however, at national and local level there is always plenty to do, such as promoting energy saving systems. This implies facilitating industrial production modes with maximum energy efficiency and reduced use of raw materials, removing from the market products that not very effective from the point of view of energy or greater pollution. We can also mention good transportation management or technologies of construction and renovation of buildings that reduce energy consumption and pollution levels. In addition, local political action can orient itself to the change in consumption, the development from an economy of waste to recycling, the protection of certain species and the planning of diversified agriculture with crop rotation. One can help improve poor agricultural regions through investments in rural infrastructure, the organization of local or national markets, in irrigation systems, in the development of sustainable agricultural techniques. You can facilitate forms of cooperation or community organization that promote the interests of small producers and preserve local ecosystems from depredation. There is very much that one can do!

181. Continuity is essential, because you can not change the policies related to climate change and environmental protection every time a government changes. The results are time consuming and involve immediate costs with effects that cannot be produced during the life of a government. Therefore, without the pressure of population and institutions, there will always be resistance to intervention, especially when there are urgent needs to solve. A politician that takes these responsibilities with the costs that imply, not responding to efficiency-oriented logic and “immediatist” economics and current politics, but if one has the courage to do so, will again recognize the dignity that God has given him as a person and leave, after his passage in history, a testimony of generous responsibility. It should give more space for a sound policy, able to reform the institutions, to coordinate and provide them with good practices, that can overcome pressures and vicious inertia. However, we must add that the best devices end up succumbing when missing the great goals, the values, a humanistic and meaningful understanding, capable of giving each society a noble and generous orientation.

III. Dialogue and transparency in decision-making

182. The forecast of the environmental impact of business initiatives and projects requires political processes transparent and subjected to dialogue, while corruption that hides the true environmental impact of a project in exchange for favors often leads to ambiguous agreements beyond the duty to inform and in-depth debate.

183. A study of environmental impact should not be following the development of a productive project or any policy, plan or program. It should be added from the start and should be developed in an interdisciplinary way, transparent and independent of any political or economic pressure. It must be connected with the analysis of working conditions and the possible effects on the physical and mental health of the people, the local economy, safety. It will be able to predict more realistically the economic results, taking into account the possible scenarios and possibly anticipating the need for greater investment to solve side effects that can be corrected. One always needs to gain consensus among the various social actors who can bring different perspectives, solutions and alternatives. But the debate must hold pride of place for the locals, who are wondering what they want for themselves and their children, and may take into account the purposes that go beyond the immediate economic interest. We must abandon the idea of environmental “interventions”, to give rise to policies designed and debated by all parties concerned. Participation requires that everyone is well informed about the different aspects and the various risks and opportunities, and can not be reduced to the initial decision on a project, but also involves actions to control or monitoring. There is need for sincerity and truth in scientific discussions and policies, is not limited to considering what is allowed or not by legislation.

184. When any environmental risks are displayed that affect the common good of present and future, the situation requires “that decisions are based on a comparison of risks and benefits foreseen for the various possible alternatives,” [131 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 469.]. This is especially true if a project may cause an increase in the exploitation of natural resources, emissions and waste, production waste, or a significant change in the landscape, the habitat of endangered species or in a public space. Some projects, not supported by a careful analysis, can profoundly affect the quality of life of a place for very different issues between them such as, for example, a noise is not expected, a reduction in visibility, the loss of cultural values, the effects of the use of nuclear energy. The consumer culture that gives priority to short-term and private interest, can promote practices that are too rapid or can allow the concealment of information.

185. In any discussion of a business venture you should ask a series of questions, in order to discern if it brings a real integral development: For what purpose? Why? Where? When? In what way? Who is it for? What are the risks? At what cost? Who pays and how will they? In this test there are issues that need to be prioritized. For example, we know that water is a scarce and essential resource, and also a fundamental right that affects the exercise of other human rights. This is unquestionable and beyond any environmental impact analysis of a region.

186. In the Rio Declaration of 1992, it is declared that “where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason to delay the adoption of effective measures” [132 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (14 June 1992), Principle 15] that prevent the degradation of the environment. This precautionary principle allows the protection of the weak, who have few means to defend themselves and to provide irrefutable evidence. If the objective information leads us to foresee a serious and irreversible damage, even without an indisputable demonstration, any project should be stopped or changed. This will reverse the burden of proof, given that these will need to provide an objective demonstration and decisive that the proposed activity is not going to bring serious harm to the environment or to those who inhabit it.

187. This does not mean opposing any technological innovation that allows to improve the quality of life of a population. But in any case it must remain firm that profitability can not be the only criterion to take into account, and that, when new elements of judgment appear with the development of information, there should be a re-evaluation with the participation of all stakeholders. The result of the discussion may be the decision not to pursue a project, but it could also be its modification or development of alternative proposals.

188. There are discussions on issues relating to the environment for which it is difficult to reach a consensus. Once again I repeat that the Church does not claim to settle the scientific questions, nor to present a substitute for policy, but calls for an honest and transparent debate, because special needs or ideologies must not adversely affect the common good.

IV. Politics and economics in dialogue for human fullness

189. Policy does not have to submit to the economy, and should not submit to the dictates and the efficiency paradigm of technocracy. Today, thinking of the common good, we inescapably need that politics and the economy, in dialogue, place themselves resolutely to the service of life, especially human life. The bailout of the banks at all costs, by charging the price to the population, without the firm decision to review and reform the entire system, reaffirms an absolute domination of finance that has no future and that can only generate new crises after a long, expensive and apparent cure. The financial crisis of 2007-2008 was an opportunity to develop a new economy more attentive to ethical principles, and to a new regulation of financial speculation and virtual wealth. But there has been a reaction that has led us to rethink the outdated criteria that continue to rule the world. Production is not always rational, and is often linked to economic variables which give the product a value that does not correspond to its real value. This causes often an overproduction of certain goods, with an unnecessary environmental impact, at the same time harming many regional economies. [133 See Mexican Episcopal Conference. Episcopal Commission for Social Pastoral, Jesucristo, vida y esperanza de los indígenas y campesinos (14 January 2008). ] The financial bubble is usually also a bubble of production. Ultimately, what is not addressed decisively is the problem of the real economy, which makes it possible for one to diversify and improve production, which companies are working properly, that small and medium-sized enterprises to develop and create employment, and so on.

190. In this context, we must always remember that “environmental protection can not be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that market mechanisms are not able to defend or promote adequately. “[134 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 470.] Again, we should avoid a magical concept of the market, which tends to think that the problems will be resolved only by growth in corporate and individual profits. Is it unrealistic to expect that those who are obsessed with maximizing profits stop to think about the environmental effects that they will leave to future generations? Within the scheme of annuity there is no place to think about the rhythms of nature, in this time of degradation and regeneration, and the complexity of ecosystems that may be seriously altered by human intervention. Moreover, when it comes to biodiversity, at the most it is thought as a reserveof financial resources that could be exploited, but not considered seriously is the real value of things, their meaning for people and cultures, for the interests and needs of th poor.

191. When you raise these issues, some react by accusing you of irrationally demanding to stop progress and human development. But we must convince ourselves that slowing down to a certain pattern of production and consumption can lead to another mode of progress and development. Efforts for the sustainable use of natural resources are not an unnecessary expense, but an investment that will provide other economic benefits in the medium term. If we do not have constraints against different views, we find that the diversification of production, more innovative and with lower environmental impact, can be very profitable. It is to open the way for different opportunities, which do not imply stopping human creativity and its dream of progress, but rather channelling this energy in a new way.

192. For example, a process of more creative and better targeted productive development could correct the disparity between the excessive investment in technology for the consumer and the poor to solve the urgent problems of mankind; it could generate intelligent and profitable forms of re-use, functional recovery and recycling; it could improve urban energy efficiency; and so on. Diversification of production offers very wide possibilities for human intelligence to create and innovate, while protecting the environment and creating more job opportunities. This creativity would let the nobility of the human being to flower again, because it is more dignified to use intelligence, with courage and responsibility, to find forms of sustainable and equitable development, as part of a broader concept of quality of life. Conversely, it is less dignified and creative and more superficial to insist on creating forms of looting of nature only to offer new possibilities for consumption and immediate returns.

193. However, if in some cases sustainable development will involve new ways to grow, in other cases, in front of the greedy and irresponsible growth that has taken place over many decades, we must think well about slowing down the pace a bit, putting in some reasonable limits and also turning back before it is too late. We know it is unsustainable behavior of those who consume and destroy more and more, while others fail to live in accordance with their human dignity. Because of this, it’s time to accept a certain decrease in some parts of the world procuring resources so that we can grow in a healthy way elsewhere. Benedict XVI said that “it is necessary that technologically advanced societies must be prepared to encourage conduct characterized by sobriety, while reducing their energy consumption and improving the conditions of its use.” [135 Message for the World Day of Peace 2010, 9: AAS 102 (2010), 46.]

194. In order that new models of progress arise we need to “change the pattern of global development”, [136 Ibid. ] which implies reflecting responsibly “on the meaning of the economy and its purposes, to correct its dysfunctions and distortions”. [137 Ibid., 5: p. 43.] It is not enough to reconcile, in a middle ground, caring for nature with the financial revenue, or the preservation of the environment with the progress. On this issue the middle ground is only a small delay in disaster. It is merely redefining progress. A technological and economic development that does not leave a better world and a higher quality of life in its entirety, can not be considered progress. On the other hand, many times the actual quality of life of people decreases – the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of the food or the depletion of some resources – in the context of a growing economy. In this framework, the discourse of sustainable growth often becomes a diversion and a means of justification absorbing values of the ecologist discourse within the logic of finance and technocracy, and the social and environmental responsibility of businesses is reduced mostly to a series of marketing and image.

195. The principle of profit maximization, which tends to isolate itself from any other consideration, is a conceptual distortion of the economy: it increases production, caring little what is produced at the expense of future resources or the health of the environment; if the cutting down of a forest increases production, no measure in this calculation includes the loss of desertifying a territory, destroying biodiversity or increasing pollution. Namely that companies obtain profits by calculating and paying a tiny fraction of the cost. One might consider behavior ethical only when “the economic and social costs resulting from the use of common environmental resources are recognized with transparency and are fully supported by those who benefit from it and not by other peoples or future generations.” [138 Benedict XVI, Enc. Lett. Caritas in Veritate (29 June 2009), 50: AAS 101 (2009), 686.] Instrumental rationality, which brings only a static analysis of reality according to the needs of the moment, is present both when the market allocates resources, as when does a state planner.

196. What then is the place of politics? We recall the principle of subsidiarity, which gives freedom for the development of the capacity that exists at all levels, but at the same time calls for more responsibility to the common good on the part of those who hold the most power. It is true that today some economic sectors exert more power of the states themselves. But you can not justify an economy without politics, that would be incapable of bringing about another logic capable of governing the various aspects of the current crisis. The logic that leaves no room for a genuine concern for the environment is the same that has no place concerning the integration of the more fragile, because “in the current model ‘successful’ and ‘private’, does not seem to make sense to invest those who are left behind, the weak or less gifted can make their way in life.” [139 Apostolic. ap. Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 209: AAS 105 (2013), 1107.]

197. We need a policy that thinks with a broad view, and carries forward a new integrated approach, including an interdisciplinary dialogue in the different aspects of the crisis. Many times the same policy is responsible for its own discredit, because of corruption and the lack of good public policy. If the state does not fulfill its role in a region, some business groups may appear as benefactors and hold the real power, feeling permitted not to observe certain standards, giving rise to different forms of organized crime, human trafficking, drug trafficking and violence that is very difficult to eradicate. If politics is not capable of breaking a perverse logic, and is also incorporated in inconsistent speeches, it will continue to not address the major problems of humanity. A strategy of real change requires us to rethink the whole process—it is not enough to insincerely consider superficial ecological considerations while no one questions the logic underlying the present culture. A sound policy should be able to take on this challenge.

198. The political and the economic spheres tend to blame each other in terms of poverty and environmental degradation. But what is expected is that they recognize their mistakes and find forms of interaction oriented to the common good. While some are scrambling only for economic benefit and others are obsessed only by maintaining or increasing power, we’re left with wars or ambiguous arrangements where the two parties are barely interested in preserving the environment and taking care of weaker. Here too, the principle that “unity is superior to the conflict.” [140 Ibid., 228: AAS 105 (2013), 1113.]

V. Religions in dialogue with the sciences

199. One can not argue that the empirical sciences explain fully life, the essence of all creatures and the whole of reality. This would mean unduly overcoming their limited methodological boundaries. If you reflect on this restricted framework, aesthetic sensitivity, poetry, and even the capacity of reason to grasp the meaning and purpose of things disappear. [141 Cf. Lett. Enc. Lumen Fidei (29 June 2013), 34: AAS 105 (2013), 577: “The light of faith, together with the truth of love, is not alien to the material world, because love will live forever in the body and soul; the light of faith is light incarnate, who proceeds from the luminous life of Jesus. It also illuminates the matter, trust in your order, knows that it opens a path of harmony and understanding wider. The gaze of science thus receives a benefit by faith: this invites the scientist to remain open to reality, in all its inexhaustible richness. Faith awakens a critical sense, as it prevents the search to be satisfied in its formulas and helps you to understand that nature is getting bigger. Inviting to wonder at the mystery of creation, faith broadens the horizons of reason to illuminate more of the world that opens to the study of science. ” ] I want to remember that “the classical religious texts can provide a meaning for all ages, have a motivating force that opens new horizons [...]. Is it reasonable and intelligent to relegate them to darkness only because they were born in the context of a religious belief?”. [142 Apostolic. ap. Evangelii gaudium (24 November 2013), 256: AAS 105 (2013), 1123.] In fact, it is simplistic to think that ethical principles can arise in a purely abstract manner, detached from any context, and the fact that they appear within a religious language does not detract from their value in any public debate. The ethical principles that reason is capable of perceiving can always reappear under different clothes, and be expressed in different, even religious languages.

200. On the other hand, any technological solution that science will claim to make will be powerless to solve the serious problems of the world if humanity loses its course, if we forget the big reasons that make it possible to live together, the sacrifice, the goodness. In any case, it will be necessary to appeal to the believers so that they are consistent with their faith and do not contradict with their actions, we must insist that they open again to the grace of God and they draw from their deep convictions about love, justice and peace. If a poor understanding of our principles led us at times to justify the abuse of nature or the despotic rule of human beings over creation, or wars, injustice and violence, as believers we can recognize that in this way we are been unfaithful to the treasure of wisdom that we should cherish. Many times the levels of different cultural epochs have influenced the awareness of one’s ethical and spiritual, but it is precisely the return to their respective sources which allows religions to better respond to current needs.

201. Most of the inhabitants of the planet declare themselves believers, and this should push religions to enter into a dialogue with each other oriented to the care of nature, to the defense of the poor, to build a network of respect and brotherhood. It is also essential to have dialogue between the sciences themselves, since each is usually closed within the limits of its own language, and specialization tends to become isolation and absolutization of knowledge. This prevents it from adequately addressing environmental problems. Equally it is necessary to have an open and respectful dialogue between the different ecological movements, among which there are ideological struggles. The severity of the ecological crisis requires us all to think about the common good and to move forward on the path of dialogue that requires patience, asceticism and generosity, always remembering that “the reality is superior to the idea.” [143 Ibid., 231: p. 1114.]