During the summer of 2015 Pope Francis released his extended encyclical, Laudato Si’, “Praise Be to You,” his effort, as he explained it, “to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (¶ 3). It was a timely letter, and of vital significance, even as it drew together themes and messages that other observers of our earthly plight had presented for years. The earth, the pope proclaimed, is our common home. The health, fertility, and flourishing of that common home, including its human members, is an objective good that transcends our existence and knowledge, in ways we cannot fully grasp. We are abusing and degrading this home and hurting one another, other life forms, and future generations in the process. And we do so not because we are inherently bad people and not chiefly because of our damaging technologies. We do so for reasons embedded in our culture, in the ways we perceive the world, value it and its future, and understand our place in it; by the ways we comprehend ourselves chiefly as preference-satisfying individuals, content to compete within and organize our affairs around political-economic systems that generate deadly costs, ecological and social....
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