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Friday, July 14, 2017

Laudato Si' and big cities

The Holy Father, Pope Francis has sent a Message to the participants taking part in the Laudato Si' y Grandes Ciudades International Congress taking place in Río de Janeiro (Brazil) from 13 to 15 July 2017.  This meeting was organized by the Antoni Gaudí para las Grandes Ciudades Foundation based in Bacelona, with the collaboration of the Archdiocese of Río de Janeiro.

Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to the 
Laudato Sí y Grandes Ciudades International Congress

His Eminence, Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach
Archbishop emeritus of Barcelona

Dear brother:

Greetings to you, as well as to all those who are taking part in the Laudato Si' y Grandes Ciudades International Congress.

In the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si', I refer to various physical needs that are faced by men today in large cities, which need to be faced with respect, responsibility and relationship.  These are three Rs that can help us to interact with the most essential imperatives of our co-existence.

Respect is the fundamental attitude that mankind must have in relation to creation.  We have received creation as a precious gift and we must commit ourselves to maintaining it so that future generations will be able to admire and enjoy it.  We must teach and transmit this necessity to care for it as well.  Saint Francis of Assisi affirms this truth in his Canticle of the Creatures: Praised be my Lord, for sister water, which is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.  These adjectives express the beauty and importance of these elements, which are indispensable for life.  Like other created elements, clean and potable water is an expression of the attentive and provident love of God for every one of his creatures, a fundamental right which every society must guarantee (cf Laudato Si', 30).  When it is not given the attention it deserves, it becomes a source of disease and its scarcity endangers the lives of millions of people.  It is the duty of all people to create in society an awareness of respect for our environment; this is a benefit for us and also for future generations.

Responsibility for creation is evident in the way we interact with it; this is one of our primary tasks.  We cannot stand with our arms crossed when we are aware of a grave decrease in air quality or an increase in the production of waste that is not properly treated.  These realities are the result of an irresponsible way of manipulating creation and they call us to exercise an active responsibility for the good of all people.  Moreover, we see indifference to our common home and, unfortunately, to many other tragedies and needs that our brothers and sisters face.  This passivity demonstrates the loss of that sense of responsibility for our fellow men upon which all of civil society is based (Laudato Si', 25).  Each territory and government should encourage responsible ways of acting among its citizens so that, with ingenuity, they may interact and favour the creation of a more habitable and a healthier house.  If each one of us puts forward the little that we have to offer, much will be achieved.

There is a growing lack of relationships within large cities, as well as in rural areas.  Regardless of the cause that produces this truth, the constant flow of people produces a more pluralistic, multicultural society which is an asset, for it produces wealth as well as social and personal growth, however it also causes society to be at times more suspicious and closed in upon itself.  The lack of roots and isolation on the part of some people are both forms of poverty, which can degenerate into experiences of ghettos and lead to violence and injustices.  Instead, man is called to love and to be loved, to establish bonds of belonging and bonds of unity among all his fellow men.  It is important that all of society should work together in the political field as well as that of education and religion in order to create human relationships that are warmer and in order to break down the walls that isolate and marginalize.  This can be achieved through groups, schools, parishes etc., which are capable merely by their presence of building a network of communion and belonging, in order to foster better coexistence and to overcome so many difficulties.  In this way, any place can cease being an inferno and become a context for a dignified life (Laudato Si', 149).

I commend to the intercession of the Holy Virgin, Queen of heaven and earth, these days of study and of reflection.  May her advice and guidance influence your decisions in favour of a comprehensive ecology that protects our common home and builds a civilization that is increasingly humane and supportive.

Please, I ask you to pray for me; and may the Lord bless you.

From the Vatican
12 June 2017

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