During Pope Francis’ trip to the U.S., the Holy Father is likely to bring a message that is both joyful and evangelical, as well as challenging to everyone’s conscience, just as he did in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’.
Much media coverage of Laudato Si’ focused on the pope’s challenge to capitalists and climate change skeptics. However, the coverage lacked sufficient attention to the central message of Laudato Si’: that "everything is connected." This means that one should not separate moral, ethical and environmental concerns but rather recognize an "inseparable" bond between "concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace."
Accordingly, faith needs to guide and inform our business relationships and practices, fruitfully joined together with reason. This also means that when it comes to technology and markets, to interpreting problems and their causes or to finding practical solutions, there is no moral neutral ground. Everything in business affects human persons and our environment, and thus inherently has a moral content. This is a message that challenges everyone, not just those who are strong believers in the benefits of free markets.
The central message "everything is connected" is repeated over and over again. This repetition is quite conscious on the part of the Holy Father, as he flatly declares that "[i]t cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected." As the encyclical explains, the interconnectedness derives from all creation – including ourselves – being a wonderful gift from God the Creator. We humans in particular are made in the image of God and thus endowed with infinite dignity, are inherently social beings called to communion with others, and as limited creatures are part of nature ourselves. Pope Francis clarifies that "human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself." Therefore, we cannot separate how to relate to God, our neighbor and our natural environment.