Pope Francis and the Natural World

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Pope Francis and the Natural World

Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si': On care for our common home, takes its title from a prayer composed by his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.

Laudato si means "praise be to you." In The Canticle of the Sun, St. Francis recounts the virtues of the natural world: the heavenly bodies, water and fire, and the earth itself, in which he sees the divine reflected. He writes:

Praise be to You, my Lord, for Brothers Wind
and Air, cloudy and serene, in all weather's moods,
through which You give Your creatures nourishment.

Praise be to You, my Lord, for Sister Water;
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

Pope Francis cautions that "a certain way of understanding human life and activity has gone awry, to the serious detriment of the world around us." He fears we have confused power with progress, and mistaken economic and technological advancement with an increase in the common good. He warns that we are no longer in tune with nature, and wishes we would protect "those common areas, visual landmarks and urban landscapes which increase our sense of belonging, of rootedness, of 'feeling at home'...which include us and bring us together."

Here are highlights of his remarks on the environment made before Congress and the United Nations, together with works by international artists who paint and draw the natural world.

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all images courtesy of the artists, and Crown Point Press