“…when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.” (LS, 92)

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Only recently we were shown through various media outlets a man aggressively trying to remove a woman, who worked as a nanny in the building, from an elevator and violently grabbing and throwing out the small dog she was holding.  All of us expressed our sense of horror and indignation in the face of this event, but like all other violent scenarios we have witnessed, it will most likely soon be forgotten. And perhaps this event only serves to reaffirm once again that the heart is one and the same, and that it is only a matter of time before the aggressiveness that leads to the abuse of an animal is manifested in the aggression that excludes and marginalises so many living things from our common Home.

For this reason, in the present challenges of reconstructing the social fabric of our country, we are required to deepen and strengthen our communion with creation. Pope Francis challenges us that “never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years”, and this harsh reality is experienced by all, some perhaps with indifference, others with pessimism but others still with the passion that is born from a love that doesn’t give up, but rather seeks out solutions.

But, where do we start?  Or better still, what can we do differently?  Or when will we assume, not only in dialogue but in practice, that the ecological crisis is an ethical one? For it seems that is not simply enough to recognize the integrity of creation and that we are a network of relationships between all living creatures.  Even while knowing this, we still remain committed to the widespread destruction of creation. It would seem that what is needed is a real and profound change of heart.

A transformation that compels us to privilege the common good over the individual, that the concern for justice be the flip side of the ability to love, and that reconciliation be the key that unites of all creation.

To nurture a united heart that is open to universal communion, is perhaps the greatest task we are called upon to take as humanity. We need to commit ourselves and strive to ensure that all living things have a place in our common home, so that no one or nothing feels excluded or unprotected, because we recognize the mutual interdependence that is capable of recreating the relationships that have been damaged, or even been broken over the centuries.

In Chile we are witness to, and suffer from this relationship breakdown, we are so used to engaging virtually with our opinions, but find it difficult to meet face-to-face with this other, who also wants a place in this society and demands we recognize it as a valid partner. It becomes more difficult, I think, because suggesting we reweave or rebuild the links that connect all living beings, involves a transformation of the heart, and this proposal can be branded as “illusory”, even “half naive,” but if we really want to stop the increasing deterioration of our planet and of those who inhabit it, we will have to take on the ethical challenge of the crisis, which is a call to cultivate “an heart open to universal communion.”

Collaboration: Adriana Curaqueo, Coordinator of the Columban Mission Centre.

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