The responsibility of the family in the care of the common home

In the context of the month of the family and of our annual activity ‘Un paso por mi Familia, in its 10th edition, and thanks to the support of this press outlet, we seek to illuminate the responsibility of the family in caring for the planet from the Encyclical Laudato Yes. It is about giving some keys or ideas that show the family-Laudato Sí connection threads in a broad dimension in which some connections with the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia are also included.

In that sense, we cite four key aspects to consider:

The Encyclical Laudato yes, it is a simple but profound text, markedly interdisciplinary and that challenges everyone, not only governments, companies, institutions in general, but also each one of us on a personal, family and as citizens. It is a text that leaves no one indifferent, regardless of the religion they profess and, each time it is read, new ideas and implications, social and personal, spring to mind; but directly unavoidable family responsibilities.

The second key idea is, although it is true that the Encyclical represents a step forward in the Social Doctrine of the Church, it is also true that it is framed in continuity with the writings of previous Popes. In the work numerous texts of its predecessors and terms are cited, such as ecological conversion, coined by St. John Paul II in 2001, which acquire a new dimension. A phrase from the encyclical itself captures this idea very well: “Again springs the eternal novelty of Christian thought” originating from the family paradigm made up of Joseph, Mary and Jesus in those settings of Nazareth, Bethlehem, Egypt and Jerusalem, and how they cared the environments where they moved and acted.

The third idea, closely related to the previous one, is that the worldview present in the encyclical is Christian anthropology. God the Creator grants men and women a special dignity so that we can be the faithful gardeners of his creative work. The human being is nature, it is an inseparable part of the Earth and is responsible for it, for its care and for ensuring that the creator’s designs are fulfilled in it. The Pope opposes this vision of Christian anthropology to anthropocentrism, the man God of the world and also to biocentrism, deified nature and man his enemy. The encyclical shows in great detail the damage anthropocentrism and its logics have done, and continue to do, to the world, both to nature and to human beings themselves. : What is happening in the world today that we are destroying that precious Garden of God?

In point 119 of the encyclical it is stated: “We cannot pretend to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all the basic relationships of the human being, without recognizing the value of each human person, without recognizing the other” (LS , 119). And the basic relationships of the human being are essentially articulated in the family. Therefore, this same worldview crisis is also at the foundations of the problems that the family lives today. Professor Larrú in a recent conference on the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia pointed out: “We do not know what the family is because we do not know what the person is.” If we cross on the anthropological plane, the texts of the Laudato si and the exhortation we see that they are intertwined. At point 122 of the encyclical it is stated: “A deviant anthropocentrism gives rise to a deviant lifestyle.”

In this “liquid” modernity in which we live, one of the fundamental problems that affects all our relationships is, as point 6 of the encyclical reflects very well, “the idea that there are no indisputable truths that guide our lives” (LS , 6). This problem affects both our relationship with nature, as well as our relationship with others, others near or far, family or society in general because everything is interconnected.

The fourth and last key or general idea, very present in the Laudato, but which we also find in the Exhortation, is that everything is connected. It is not possible to separate the social from the environmental and there is “an intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet.”

The mass media have given much echo to the second aspect, to the clamor of the earth, forgetting to a greater extent the first, the clamor of the poor, but also the intimate and deep connection between the two. The voice that Pope Francis gives in the Encyclical to the poor and excluded from society has not resonated all that it should.

And this paradigm that everything in the world is connected is one of the strong ideas of the Encyclical. As can be seen, for example, in this quote: “The authentic care of our own life and of our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and fidelity to others.” Consequently, it can be affirmed that there is a link between the family crisis, the social-economic crisis and the environmental crisis, but without separating them. There is an intimate relationship between the fragility of the poor and the fragility of the planet, but this intimate relationship also jumps from the gaze to the other, to those excluded from the earth, to the gaze of the other within the intra-family sphere. There is a close connection between Laudato Sí and the merciful gaze of Jesus Christ that he learned in his first school of life, which was his family.

Final reflection

My first approximation is that the word family or familiar is found 15 times in the Encyclical. But in addition, in three of them it is not a textual reference to the concrete family reality, but rather evokes a broader and more generic meaning: “the entire human family must be united in the search for sustainable development” (LS, 13).