In front of a few hundred faithful gathered in the courtyard of Saint Damascus for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis cycle on "healing the world" after the pandemic. For the Holy Father, the care we take for our human brothers and sisters must also apply to creation. In order to do this, it is important to rediscover a contemplative view of creation.
In order to emerge from a pandemic, we must "heal and care for one another". Thus, all those who care for vulnerable people must be supported in their service, the Pope began, for whom this care must also extend to creation. Creation should not be seen as a "mere resource", for creatures have "a value in themselves", in that they "reflect, each in its own way, a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 339). To abuse them is a "grave sin", warns Francis, who reminds us that contemplation is the "best antidote to the improper use of our common home".
Feeling part of creation
"Without contemplation, it is easy to fall into an unbalanced and proud anthropocentrism"; this erroneous vision positions man as the absolute dominator over all other creatures. However, by claiming to occupy God's place, "we become predators" who exploit the earth, instead of working it with care. "Our poorest brothers and our mother the earth are groaning because of the damage and injustice we have caused" and are calling for a conversion on our part.
It is therefore important to rediscover this contemplative dimension, which makes others and nature discover "something much greater than their usefulness", namely "the intrinsic value that God have conferred on them". Contemplation "takes place from within, recognising ourselves as part of creation, becoming protagonists", more than mere observers. "If you are incapable of contemplating nature, you will not be able to contemplate the beauty of people", said the Pope, who insisted: "those who exploit nature end up exploiting people, it is a universal law".
The "contemplative in action" adopts an attitude of vigilance, becomes a protector of the environment, seeking "to combine the ancestral knowledge of millennia-old cultures with new technical knowledge, so that our lifestyle is sustainable".
What heritage will we leave to future generations?
Contemplation and care: these are two attitudes "that show the way to correct and rebalance our relationship as human beings with creation". The relationship between man and nature is sometimes likened to that between enemies, the Pope said. But unbridled exploitation is very costly, he warns, quoting a Spanish saying: "God always forgives; we sometimes forgive; nature never forgives". This relationship must be transformed into a "fraternal" one. "The problem is not how you are doing today, the problem is the life of future generations", said Francis. "Let's think about the children, the grandchildren: what will we leave them if we exploit creation?"
Thus, those who choose the path of contemplation become the "guardians of the common home" and safeguard the heritage that God has entrusted to us so that future generations can enjoy it". And the Pope to pay homage to the indigenous peoples, "to whom we owe a debt of gratitude", but also to the associations and movements that are committed to protecting their territory with its natural and cultural values, but whose work is not always appreciated or even hindered. They all participate in the "care revolution".
"Each one of us can and must become a 'guardian of the common home', capable of praising God for his creatures, contemplating them and protecting them", the Pope concluded.