[Openning Remarks for Special ADDU Day for Laudato Si! at ADDU, July 24, 2015]
It is my pleasure to greet all of the members of the ADDU community and all of our guests as we come together today in special session to consider the latest encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home.
As part of its mission, Ateneo de Davao “engages vigorously in environmental protection, the preservation of bio-diversity, and the promotion of renewable energy.” In his new encyclical, Pope Francis points to the urgency of this mission in a world that comes nearer and nearer to breaking apart, ultimately due to the compulsive consumption of people in a throwaway economy that fuels the “techno economic paradigm” of the ruling technocracy that compulsively abuses the environment, forgets the gentle graces of creation, contributes to climate change, and causes directly or indirectly the suffering of the marginalized and the excluded.
It is a strength of the encyclical that Pope Francis points to the connectedness between people who abuse the environment with people who have fallen indifferent to the reality of a loving Creator God to people who think that the meaning and happiness of their lives comes from unbridled consumption to their indifference to people who are exploited, marginalized and abused by the man-made economic system that feeds that consumption. The ADDU mission then to “engage vigorously in environmental protection” is inseparable from the mission to engage in “the promotion of faith that does justice, in cultural sensitivity and transformation, and in inter-religious dialogue.” It is inseparable from the mission to “promote communities touched and transformed by the faith, communities of peace and human well-being, culturally resilient, yet able to adapt to the modern world.”
Because of our mission and the importance this document that calls not just for abstract environmental gestures, but for a new ecology that integrates concern for the natural and human environment, an “integral ecology”, we have called for this special ADDU Day for Laudato Si!. May our pakighinabi sessions alert us to the urgency of the environmental realities that need to be addressed not only from the viewpoint of the physical and biological sciences, but also from the viewpoints of our professional training and personal interests in engineering, in our use of the natural sciences, the manner in which we gather and manage information today, the health sciences, the social sciences, our philosophies, our theologies, our various spiritualities, our mission as Catholic university educators and formators, in terms of what we teach and how we teach it, in terms of what we learn and how this shapes our life attitudes and life commitments. Do we teach to feed in to the dynamics of unbridled manipulative and manipulated mass consumption, or do we teach to liberate from it? Do we learn to contribute to a status quo that is destructive of the environment and oppressive of the poor, or do we learn to be leaders moved by genuine concern for our common come and our common good? May we therefore come together from the particular concerns of our diverse disciplines to consider how we might better “care for our common home” and our common weal not only today, but in our life as a Jesuit, Catholic and Filipino university in Mindanao. With other Catholic schools, colleges and universities in the Philippines who have resolved together to make Laudato Si an object of their instruction, research and service to their communities, may we be inspired by our Pope and guided by the Holy Spirit.
At the end of this day, with St. Francis of Assisi, may we be better able to pray:
Praised be you, (Laudato Si), my Lord, with all your creatures,
Especially Sir Brother Sun, who is the day and through whom you give us light. And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor, And bears a likeness of you, Most High.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars. In heaven you formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
And through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather through whom you give sustenance to your creatures.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Sister Water, who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be you, my Lord, through Brother Fire, Through whom you light the night, And he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.”
Have a fruitful Laudato Si! Day! May it be for us a new dawn!