“Lecture on Pope Francis´ Theology of Laudato Si´ with Dr Eduardo J. Echeverria
The Centre of Theology, Philosophy and Media Theory, Charles University in Prague is pleased to welcome Dr. Eduardo J. Echeverria, Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary (Graduate School of Theology) in Detroit, who will speak on the topic of “Integral Ecology: The Theological Structure of Laudato Si´”.
Lecture will take place at 16:00 on Tuesday the 3rd of May at the Catholic Theological Faculty [room P8]
In this paper, first, I examine the theological foundation of “integral ecology” in Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’. Integral ecology is a comprehensive vision of man grounded in the threefold relationships that are constitutive of his humanity, namely, first, man’s relationship with the Triune God, and, consequently, his relation with his fellow humans, as well as his relationship to the whole of creation, which includes not only nature (the earth), but the full spectrum of culture, that is, marriage, family, schools, art, literature, and architecture, the economy, human relationships, human work, housing, urban planning and others. Ecology in this sense is about integral human development. Thus, man’s care for himself includes his care for all these aspects of his humanity that will promote authentic human flourishing.
Second, I examine Francis’ critique of a “tyrannical anthropocentrism” (LS §68), an “excessive [or] misguided anthropocentrism” (§116, §119), justifying an “absolute domination over other creatures” (LS §67; §82). This misguided anthropocentrism has intellectual roots of a metaphysical, anthropological, and epistemological nature, and Pope Francis endeavors to uncover those roots in what he calls “the dominant technocratic paradigm” (LS §101). Metaphysical because this paradigm is anti-realist, denying the logos-structure to reality, its enduring forms, disregarding “the message contained in the structures of nature itself” (LS §117), and, indeed, in the “‘ecology of man’ [that is] based on the fact that ‘man too has a nature that he must respect and thus he cannot manipulate at will’ [Pope Benedict XVI]” (LS §155). Epistemological because the primary stance of man to reality “has become confrontational” and hence “exploitative of the natural order” (LS §106). Francis is critical of the reductionism in that paradigm: the human person is reduced to a controller of reality, exercising not just stewardship over nature but domination; knowledge is reduced to the method of science, one-dimensional in that sense; and reality is “formless, completely open to manipulation.” Anthropological because man is understood, not as a responsible steward of reality, but rather as a dominator over reality, which is a stance that fails to respect not only the “logos-structure” of reality, its intrinsic dignity, but also man’s own nature, including his bodied person, “valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity . . . if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different” (LS §155). In this connection, we can see the necessity for an “integral ecology” (LS §137).
In sum, integral ecology pertains to man’s transcendence over nature, the interconnection of all things (LS §76, §86), the rightful, law-governed autonomy of all things (LS §71, §80), the enduring structures of creation (LS §117), with each being having its own inherent form (§84), indeed, the world’s form has a “logos-structure” (LS §99; §155), the common good (LS §156; §157), the moral law (§155), and the depth dimension of God’s divine presence in the unfolding of creation, “which ensures the subsistence and growth of each being, [and] continues the work of creation” (LS §80).