Laudito Si — Praise be to you, my Lord
Patrick Luciani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, is someone who can find fault with the Lord’s Prayer.
His unabashed admiration for Donald Trump, capitalism and his disdain for Pope Francis is evident in his recent column,”The Pope vs Donald Trump.” that was recently published in the Financial Section of the National Post. His ramblings on the Pope’s personal encyclical on Climate Change entitled, “Laudito Si” indicates his disregard for the teachings of Christ that call for faith, hope and charity. Though an avid reader, Luciani somehow missed what St. Augustine wrote. This saintly man and great thinker wrote there is a stone so heavy that even God cannot lift it. That stone is a man’s heart that is so weighed down with pride, envy, violence, lust and unbridled greed.
In the words of this beautiful canticle, translated as “Praise be to you, my Lord” Pope Francis reminds us that the earth is our common home. It now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods which God has endowed her. We take for granted we are entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth itself, burdened and laid waste by man, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor. She groans in travail. We have forgotten that we, ourselves are dust of this earth: our very bodies are made up of her elements; we breathe her air and we receive life and are refreshed by her waters.
These are beautiful, profound and powerful words – echoed by every religion in the world. Yet, they have fallen on deaf ears. Scientists from eighty countries around the world have reiterated that global warming and climate change is real and that man has much to blame for it. Yet many politicians and their supporters gladly believe that this is fake news, a conspiracy and a hoax, relying on a morally bankrupt television station that regularly spews out its toxic news.
Mr. Luciani tells us that after decades of economic growth and global wealth, an explosion of higher living standards and productivity, it seems that Pope Francis now wants to turn the clock back. He fails to understand that none of the above involved any real charity. To understand this, one has to recall the time when pharmaceutical companies paraded their secretaries as nurses to promote baby formula in Africa and other third world countries where there is no clean running water. Mr. Luciani tells us that growing incomes and wealth allow people a higher standard of living with better medicines, travel and leisure. A doctor is allowed a limited time to treat a patient. He does not have the time to really sit down with the patient and diagnose the problem. Because of the limited time, he prescribes pills that pharmaceutical companies have mass produced and have made outrageous and unsubstantiated claims. It is widely known that doctors are enticed to promote their products. He is, perhaps, unaware of senior executives of banks and major corporations who earn millions of dollars while a teller cannot get enough hours a week.
Bombardier was recently given millions of dollars by the Canadian government to save it from bankruptcy. The executives immediately gave themselves a 50% increase in salaries. This amounts to rewarding failure with money from the poor, taxpaying public. Financial advisers have known to “cook” the books in order to qualify for bonuses. In 2008, financial institutions qualified people for mortgages – even if they did not have a job. A major bank in Canada has been recently under fire for pressuring their employees to get their clients to buy/spend more on their products — even if it is illegal. Anything for a buck!
By 1834, every nook and corner of Africa was conquered and colonized by the western European powers who fought their proxy wars on foreign soil, plundering their natural resources. They looted, raped and enslaved people. They stole Africa’s greatest assets — human beings. The richest continent on earth became the poorest.
The lifestyles of the wealthy is nothing short of obscene. A billionaire in California, not too long ago, bought his 9th. mansion. We see people living in palatial homes, striving to acquire more wealth, even if it means swindling their own countrymen or trampling or taking advantage of the poor in third world countries. They are least bothered by the unsafe buildings they work in or their working conditions. Multi-national companies are least concerned about the environmental damage they cause in those countries or the mess they leave behind as long as they can get their hands on their precious metals. Then, they shamelessly buy more homes, a $6,000 shower curtain or a $14,000 umbrella stand or more luxury cars. They spend millions on lavish parties and gifts to impress their trophy wives. Just consider a president’s wife who recently showed up in Italy with a $51,500 coat. That price did not include the designer dress, the jewels, the shoes, the handbag and other accessories. This, of course, is not to paint everyone with the same brush. The most notable exception is Mr. Bill Gates. He and his wife have donated millions of their own money to help eradicate polio from the face of the earth. Coupled with the incredible work of Rotary International, this goal is on the verge of success.
Now, we have Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord on the grounds that its all fake news and based on unsubstantiated evidence. He is totally unaware of the fact the Ganges Delta, one of the richest rice producing areas in the world has been destroyed by the rising salt water of the Bay of Bengal. He talks of millions of jobs lost but cannot comprehend the fact that money cannot buy food — if there isn’t any and the source of producing that food has vanished. Canada has spent billions of dollars in health care. Climate change has adversely affected the health of its citizens. There is no point of having jobs aplenty when people are not healthy and worse still, if they are all dead. History will not be kind to feeble-minded people who get their information from a far-right, capitalistic, toxic source.
In his encyclical, Pope Francis was trying to draw attention to the parable in the Bible of the rich man and a beggar, named Lazarus. The wealthy man dressed in rich robes and feasted splendidly every day. There is no account of the wealthy man being physically or verbally abusive of the poor man. He just ignored the beggar. Both eventually died. If Mr. Luciani has no knowledge of how this parable ends, I strongly urge him to include the Bible in his list of books to read.
Most wealthy people think they are good thieves and when caught, blame the unfair justice system. In the history of mankind, there was only one good thief. And what a thief he was! At the very last moment, he stole heaven for himself! The good Book tells us that on that tragic Good Friday, the Good Thief turned to the good Lord and said, “Dear God. I am sorry!”