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Middle Ages without borders: a conversation on medievalism

Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri
Pierre Savy
Lila Yawn

d) The Pope, the planet and the medieval past

2) Home time: Laudato si’ and integral ecology

Clare Monagle

Texte intégral

1Laudato si’ has been hailed by progressives for taking the urgency of the environmental crisis seriously, and for its injunction to believe the scientists. Its subtitle declares that we ought to care for “our common home,” the earth. Such lovely words, care and home, denote intimacy and the everyday. The problem of environmental degradation is a domestic one. It hits home, so to speak. And this home is womanly. Francis tells us, “our common home is like our sister with whom we share our life, and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”; yet “[w]e have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.” These metaphors contain binarised oppositions that arouse suspicion: femininity, maternity, home, and care contrast sharply with dominion, authority, masculinity and destruction. The earth has been destroyed by the wilful desires of her inhabitants; she “groans in travail” (Rom: 8:22). A closer examination of this encyclical’s apparent gender binaries, however, reveals its radical re-reading of normative Catholic accounts of gender. By making feminised “home” the core category of analysis, and suggesting that everything of the world must be respected as our home, Francis repudiates theologies that make masculinity prior to, and more universalisable than, femininity. Rather, he subsumes the masculine into an economy of womanliness, in which everything is “home.” He does this, I show, via his Franciscan medievalism. Following his namesake’s practice, Pope Francis deploys gendered categories to subvert them, rather than seeking their reification.


2Pope Francis, Laudato si’


Macquarie University

© Publications de l’École française de Rome, 2021

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