Cardinal Cupich: Flawed Understanding of Freedom Has Led to Environmental Crisis

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Brian Roewe reports:

A bolder embrace of Laudato Si’ in the U.S. requires rejecting individualism, indifference and the “false idol of economic growth” that permits reckless exploitation of the environment, Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich said at the start of a conference seeking to bolster the response of the nation’s Catholics to climate change and the pope’s landmark ecological encyclical.

Cupich challenged Catholics to see sacrifice as “essential to saving our planet” and called on young people to meet with their bishops and priests to share their concerns about climate change and urge them to speak out on the environmental challenges facing the world.

“I am convinced that it is useless to talk about advancing a culture of life absent a vigorous commitment — both by individuals and communities — to making the sacrifices required for improving the socioeconomic, ecological and political crises of our time,” Cupich said….

“What does the pope’s challenging message mean for a Christian community that professes a commitment to promoting a culture of life, yet acts with indifference to the call to make the sacrifices needed to protect this common home that God has entrusted to us?” Cupich asked, calling the ecological crisis “the most challenging sign of our time” and one caused by human activity….

A core hurdle, he said, is an idolatry of money in the U.S. that “triggers the worst in us” and leads to individualism, indifference and irrational competition. Fueling that mindset has been a misinterpretation of “dominion” in the Book of Genesis as giving humanity free rein to exploit the Earth….

“We have fallen into the misconception that material growth is synonymous with human development,” Cupich said.

Misconceptions about development have also distorted notions of freedom and approaches to politics, he added. “While the sense of absolute freedom without responsibility has led us to take from the Earth more than we need, it has also alienated us from our fundamental identities as brothers and sisters of the same human family.

“Let’s be clear,” the cardinal said. “Sharing, solidarity and communion are neither anti-freedom values nor the basis of an anti-American ‘socialist’ plan. They are first and foremost Christian values, deep human values that are vital for actual human development.”