Pope Francis: The Earth, Our Sister, Cries Out
“1. “L AUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.
2. This sister 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. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.
Nothing in this world is indifferent to us.” — the first two paragraphs of Laudato Si
Yesterday morning, the Vatican published Pope Francis’ eagerly awaited encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si. He addresses it not just to Catholics but to every single person on the planet.
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.”
Francis stance is clear: destroying the environment is a sin against God, and against future generations. And we must all play a part in stopping this destruction, and caring for the Earth, our sister/mother.
“A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
The document is long and the Pope goes into both scientific and moral arguments (and solutions) in some detail. He urges an end to fossil fuels and points out that wealthy countries have a duty to protect and help poor nations, to whom we owe an “ecological debt”. He also makes a connection between corruption and environmental degradation.
“The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face.”
Francis writes that each of us has a responsibility daily to look after our world and we all need to go through an “ecological conversion”.
“Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances? Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turn leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them. This too affects how they treat the environment. An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence “must not be contrived but found, uncovered”.”
Timing of the publication according to The Guardian was 11am, according to The New York Times noon and according to The Daily Telegraph, the press conference began at 10.05 am. The Telegraph journalist was writing a live blog during the press conference, so I assume she has an accurate timing of when the document became available. But the official “publication moment” is likely to have been noon, so we’ll have a look at that span of time.
This is an important day. The Pope has said what we all know — and knew before the whole economy/terrorism/war Godzilla started stomping all over the place (eg before Pluto moved into Capricorn and started squaring Uranus) — the preservation of our beautiful blue planet is the most important task for the world community. This is a deeply thoughtful document — and very pithily and poetically written so an easy read. You can read it here.
10.05 puts the Ascendant between Juno and Jupiter in Leo, which fits with the pomp of a papal press conference. Taurus, the gardener, on the MC. In the light of the opening paragraphs of this encyclical invoking mother and sister, it’s interesting to think about the significance of the sister asteroids.
As has been noted here before, Juno has a strong association with the papacy. She rises in the charts of several Popes. She also has a an affinity with public office, responsibility and contracts. This encyclical is a new contract between Catholics and the planet.
During the writing of this document Juno was hugger-mugger with Jupiter, the planet of pontiffs, currently in the sign of kings, whispering in the ear of the the current prince of the Church. Appropriately, Leo is rising. We are hearing the encyclical from the throne room.
The other asteroid who plays an important part in papal charts is Ceres. (Read about this more here.) Not only that, Ceres is the goddess of agriculture. She is a steward of the earth’s resources, so we might expect her to be playing an important role on this day. In fact, she is quietly retrograde in Aquarius. At first that looks disengaged perhaps, but in fact she is exactly where you would expect. This is about humanity’s response to the environment, and Aquarius is the sign of the community. This is about what we do as a group. Aquarius is also the futurist, the planner. Aquarius looks from the top of the mountain.
In Pope Francis’ chart, Ceres is in a tight conjunction with Jupiter in Capricorn in the 6th house. He takes this mission very seriously and he has devoted time and effort and conscience to it. Now yesterday morning,
Ceres was also in the 6th house of work. This is the house that belongs to Virgo, whose symbol is a a woman carrying sheaves of corn. It’s also about our daily lives (6H), which was something the Pope directly addresses in the document. And look tr Ceres is nestling between the Pope’s Venus-Moon conjunction in Aquarius.
By noon, Virgo is rising, and Mercury, the communicator, in Gemini, is on the MC. I expect the Vatican was busy editing and revising the encyclical during the retrograde. It begins with reference to St Francis’ Canticle of the Sun. So during yesterday morning as the Gemini Sun climbed the Sky he was accompanied by Mars, the warrior planet. But Mars is currently disabled because he is too close to the Sun. He is combust.
This Pope’s instinct for ritual and symbolism may be shown by Vesta, the asteroid of the eternal flame, Rising in Cancer. (Read here about the Olympics and Vesta.) This was transited by the Moon yesterday morning. Vesta is currently conjunct the South Node. I find that Vesta is often about our spiritual legacy and inheritance. And indeed what is at stake for the Pope is the state in which we leave the planet for our children and grandchildren.
The wounded wild is calling out: Lilith in Virgo opposite Chiron in Pisces.
There is the potential for spiritual healing, but only if we listen. The modern environmental movement started last time Chiron was in Pisces with the publication of Rachel Carson’s seminal book Silent Spring. (To read more about Chiron in Pisces, click here.)
I read the encyclical last night with an enormous sense of joy and relief — and I am not a Catholic. The ideas and feelings expressed in here are true and beautiful and hopeful. We can save sister Earth, especially if 1.2 billion Catholics take this Pope’s advice to heart.
A great piece here in the New York Review of Books
And in The Telegraph: “A Gift To The World”
And in The Guardian: “The most ambitious papal document in 100 years.”