Pope's Eco Quotes: A Case of Exclusion

Editor's Note: Later this summer, Pope Francis will release his encyclical on the environment and human ecology. The highly anticipated teaching document will be the first from a pope to focus specifically on creation and human relationship with it.

In the two years since his papacy began, Francis -- like his predecessors Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II -- has spoken regularly on environmental issues, such as protecting creation, climate change, environmental degradation and natural disasters, water, food and sustainability. As part of the lead-up to the papal encyclical, Eco Catholic will revisit key speeches, addresses and messages from Francis on environmental topics.

Nov. 23, 2013, Evangelii Gaudium (part one of two):

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[Graphic: Mick Forgey; CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters]

Chap. 2, Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment: No to an economy of exclusion

53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.” Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

ecoquote_homelessperson_banner.png“Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a ‘throw away’ culture which is now spreading.” It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

Read the full text here.

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ECO QUOTES ARCHIVE

  • Why the name 'Francis'

    “These days we do not have a very good relationship with creation, do we?”

    Read the full post here.

  • Being a Protector, Part 1

    “The vocation of being a ‘protector’ … means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us.”

    Read the full post here.

  • Being a Protector, Part 2

    “This is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out, yet one to which all of us are called, so that the star of hope will shine brightly.”

    Read the full post here.

  • Life's most essential element

    “Water is the most essential element for life, and the future of humanity depends on our capacity to guard it and share it.”

    Read the full post here.

  • The gift of knowledge

    “The knowledge that comes from the Holy Spirit … is a special gift, which leads us to grasp, through creation, the greatness and love of God and his profound relationship with every creature.”

    Read the full post here.

  • To cultivate or neglect

    “Cultivating and caring for creation … means making the world increase with responsibility, transforming it so that it may be a garden, an inhabitable place for us all.”

    Read the full post here.

  • Alternative Energy Sources

    “We need only think, for example, of alternative sources of energy, the development of which will assist in the protection of the environment.”

    Read the full post here.

  • The culture of waste

    “If there are children in so many parts of the world who have nothing to eat, that is not news, it seems normal. It cannot be so!”

    Read the full post here.

  • Alternative Energy Sources

    “We need only think, for example, of alternative sources of energy, the development of which will assist in the protection of the environment.”

    Read the full post here.

  • Time is running out

    “The time to find global solutions is running out. We can find appropriate solutions only if we act together and in agreement. There is therefore a clear, definitive and urgent ethical imperative to act.”

    Read the full post here.

  • An Important Step

    “I think that an important step is to tear down decisively the barriers of individualism, self withdrawal and the slavery of profit at all costs.”

    Read the full post here.

  • Education in Humanity

    “To educate in solidarity therefore means to educate ourselves in humanity: to build a society that is truly human means to put the person and his or her dignity at the centre, always, and never to sell him out to the logic of profit.”

    Read the full post here.