By Elise D. García
May 29, 2020
We mark the fifth anniversary of “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” against the backdrop of a global pandemic that has infected more than 5.5 million people and claimed more than 355,000 lives around the world. Far from obscuring Pope Francis’ call to care for Earth, our common home, this planetary event underscores its essential plea — to hear the integral cry of the poor and the Earth.
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed fundamental fault lines in our social, economic and spiritual foundations — deadly preexisting conditions and comorbidities. Graffiti on a wall in China says it all: “We can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.”
Nothing speaks to the root of this divergent response more poignantly than Thomas Berry’s lament, issued at the end of the last century, that “the glory of the human has become the desolation of the Earth.” As the link between ecological degradation and the spread of disease from wildlife to humans is added to the infamy of human impacts on our common home, it is also now eminently clear, as Berry adds, that “the desolation of the Earth is becoming the destiny of the human.”