Nature is God’s most basic form of diversity, and Pope Francis, in his encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si, calls for the entire global community to engage in dialogue about the care of our Common Home. He details an “integrated ecology” between nature and humanity and establishes our unique place as citizens of the world, highlighting our symbiotic relationship with our surroundings. Pope Francis writes that “the earth cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the good with which God has endowed her.” The harm we do to our planet affects us intimately, for, as humans are created in God’s image, we are not outside of the natural world, but rather deeply embedded within it.
Despite our role within creation, we often find ourselves increasingly disconnected from nature. As naturalist Richard Louv explains, “Too often we think of nature as something wholly separate from us, sequestered in national parks, forests, and seaside beaches that require organized trips. But nature is all around us, in backyards, schoolyards, gardens, and empty lots, relentlessly thrusting skyward through sidewalk cracks.” We have been entrusted with stewarding and sustaining our Common Home for all of our neighbors: people from every land, the birds of the air, the plants of the earth, and the fish of the sea.
Forgetting our role within nature creates broad ripples across our Common Home, and Pope Francis identifies five areas in need of immediate attention: