A grande dávida do “Laudato Si” por Jeffrey D. Sachs

“The Great Gift” por Jeffrey D. Sachs

Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si’” is a great and timely gift to humanity. To avoid a catastrophic collision of the world economy and environment, humanity urgently needs to change the trajectory and functioning of the world economy. Yet the world economic system is a juggernaut nearly impervious to coordinated changes at the global scale. “Laudato Si’” opens the path to a veritable revolution of ideas to bring about the needed changes.

As Pope Francis eloquently and accurately describes, the economic juggernaut is destroying biodiversity, dangerously altering the climate and undermining the life-support systems of the planet for humanity and millions of other species. On all of this, Pope Francis offers a compelling summary of the scientific evidence, presented with clarity and precision. His concision and precision on these matters exemplifies the church’s profound commitment to the marriage of faith and reason, with its abiding commitment to science.

Yet, as Pope Francis describes, the economy keeps barreling along, seemingly oblivious to these hazards and to the deadly costs they are imposing on the world’s poor and vulnerable people. In the very powerful phrase of his earlier exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” the world suffers from a “globalization of indifference” that makes it nearly impossible for humanity to reorient toward sustainable development over the current destructive trajectory. 

The church has grappled with the economic juggernaut since Leo XIII’s encyclical “Rerum Novarum”(1891), which confronted the “new things” of the industrial age. From then till now, the church has made the supremely important point that the economy can serve human wellbeing only if it kept within a moral framework for the common good.

The Faustian bargain of capitalism is to put economic self-interest—the pursuit of profit and wealth—at the center of the economic machine. Self-interest is a very powerful elixir, capable of spurring the most remarkable economic achievements, but also capable of inciting the most shocking abuses, from slavery to child labor to human trafficking to environmental destruction. A market economy without a moral framework inevitably becomes a profound danger to itself; the intoxicating forces of greed are unleashed without moral restraint and overwhelm our innate sociality, goodness and compassion.

Since “Rerum Novarem,” the church has therefore profoundly insisted that while private property rights are to be respected, property rights must be kept within the bounds of the common good. The church calls this the “universal destination of goods,” the idea that market goods must serve a higher moral purpose, not only the blind outcome of market forces. There can be no inviolability of private property rights above moral claims. As Pope Francis writes: “Thus God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: ‘The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me’ (Lev 25:23).”

The global market economy today largely operates outside of any guiding moral framework. Some business leaders reject even the most basic norms of honesty in business transactions. When they cheat their counterparts, they sneer that their counterparts are big boys who should take care of themselves.

A Sustaining Vision

Unleashed from a moral framework, the juggernaut recognizes no boundaries, not even the boundaries of the physical Earth, of Creation. The conflict of untrammeled private property and the common good was starkly on display in the United States in 1994, when the Senate took up the ratification of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (C.B.D.). The C.B.D. was adopted by the U.N. member states in 1992 in order to stop the blind destruction of nature, but the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty under pressure from landowners in western states who argued that private property rights take precedence over the survival of other species.

Pope Francis offers an “integral ecology,” which respects the fundamental interconnectedness of the economy, society and environment. “We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it,” writes Pope Francis. “Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behavior patterns, and the ways it grasps reality.” Because of this fundamental interconnectedness, this integral ecology, “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (No. 139)

Pope Francis offers a brilliant explication of the importance of a new form of research, one that I like to call the emergent field of sustainable development, to integrate the areas of specialized knowledge into a comprehensive and interconnected form of understanding. To quote the encyclical on this point:

Ongoing research should also give us a better understanding of how different creatures relate to one another in making up the larger units which today we term “ecosystems”. We take these systems into account not only to determine how best to use them, but also because they have an intrinsic value independent of their usefulness. Each organism, as a creature of God, is good and admirable in itself; the same is true of the harmonious ensemble of organisms existing in a defined space and functioning as a system. Although we are often not aware of it, we depend on these larger systems for our own existence.

“Laudato Si’” offers a compelling, eloquent and reasoned appeal to a new way of understanding, an inspiring call on humanity to use reason and faith to create a world in which the economy is once again bound by the common good, and in which the common good embraces the reverence for the physical Earth and other species. As with all great philosophical and religious insights, Pope Francis’ encyclical offers a vision that looks both backward and forward. He looks backward to the ministry of St. Francis of Assisi, who preached the love for nature; and he looks forward to practical solutions in our time to creating a new economic system that harnesses technologies and morality to save the planet.

As with “Evangelii Gaudium,” the environmental encyclical is profoundly a message of optimism, that a new awareness and morality, that a breakthrough from indifference, can yet protect humanity and preserve the Earth. Pope Francis’ optimism, indeed joy, reminds me of a statement of President John F. Kennedy, as he embarked on an arduous, and ultimately successful quest to negotiate a nuclear arms agreement with the Soviet Union in 1963. “Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again.”

This historical reference is apropos, not only in spirit but in the fact that this earlier episode of human problem solving, a half-century ago, was also helped by an epochal encyclical, “Pacem in Terris” of Pope John XXIII, which sought to place international affairs of state within a moral framework. Back in 1963, as the world teetered on the brink of nuclear self-annihilation, Pope John XXIII labored to inspire world leaders with a vision of survival and the common good. His great encyclical was hand delivered to the White House and the Kremlin.

We have cause to believe that “Pacem in Terris” helped to inspire the moral vision of Kennedy, Khrushchev and other leaders of the day. We have similar cause to believe that Pope Francis today has given us a message that will speak to all humanity, including the political leaders who will soon head to the United Nations to adopt Sustainable Development Goals in September and to Paris to decide on a vital course correction on human-induced climate change. Yes, we have before us at least the possibility of epochal change.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University in New York City. He is also special adviser to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the Millennium Development Goals and author of The End of Poverty (2005). His most recent book is The Age of Sustainable Development (Columbia University Press, 2015).

Sobre o conceito de Museologia Social

in Cadernos de Sociomuseologia nº 1, 1993 pp, 5-6

por Mário Moutinho


O conceito de Museologia Social, traduz uma parte considerável do esforço de adequação das estruturas museológicas aos condicionalismos da sociedade contemporânea. Este esforço de adequação, reconhecido e incentivado pelas mais importantes instâncias da museologia, foi sintetisado pelo Director Geral da Unesco, Frederic Mayor, na abertura da XV Conferência Geral do ICOM da seguinte forma:

o fenómeno mais geral do desenvolvimento da consciência cultural – quer se trate da emancipação do interesse do grande público pela cultura como resultado do alargamento dos tempos de lazer, quer se trate da crescente tomada de consciência cultural como reaçâo às ameaças inerentes à aceleração das transformações sociais tem no plano das instituições, encontrado um acolhimento largamente favorável nos museus.

Esta evolução é evidentemente, tanto, qualitativa como quantitativa. A instituição distante, aristocrática, olimpiana, abcecada em apropriar-se dos objectos para fins taxonómicos, tem cada vez mais – e alguns disso se inquietam – dado lugar a uma entidade aberta sobre o meio, consciente da sua relação orgânica com o seu próprio contexto social. A revolução museológica do nosso tempo – que se manifesta pela aparição de museus comunitários, museus ‘sans murs’, ecomuseus, museus itinerantes ou museus que exploram as possibilidades aparentemente infinitas da comunicação moderna – tem as suas raízes nesta nova tomada de consciência orgânica e filosófica.

Este processo anunciava-se já na Declaração de Santiago (1972 UNESCO/ICOM) onde se considerava também:

“Que o museu é uma instituição ao serviço da sociedade da qual é parte integrante e que possui em si os elementos que lhe permitirem participar na formação da consciência das comunidades que serve; que o museu pode contribuir para levar essas comunidades a agir, situando a sua actividade no quadro histórico que permite esclarecer os problemas actuais.

Que esta nova concepção não implica que se acabe com os museus actuais nem que se renuncie aos museus especializados mas que pelo contrário esta nova concepção permitirá aos museus de se desenvolver e evoluir de maneira mais racional e mais lógica a fim de se melhor servir a sociedade.


Que a transformação das actividades do museu exige a mudança progressiva da mentalidade dos conservadores e dos responsáveis dos museus assim como das estruturas das quais eles dependem;”.

Na Declaração de Caracas de 1992,que o ex-presidente do ICOM, Hugues de Varine, considerou como a mais profunda reflexão colectiva sobre museus e museologia dos últimos vinte anos estes princípios são claramente reafirmados e considerados como fundamentais para o desenvolvimento da museologia e estruturam a prospectiva apresentada no Relatório de Síntese da XVI Conferência Geral do ICOM.

A abertura do museu ao meio e a sua relação orgânica com o contexto social que lhe dá vida tem provocado a necessidade de elaborar e esclarecer relações, noções e conceitos que podem dar conta deste processo.

O alargamento da noção de património, é a consequente redefinição de “objecto museológico”, a ideia de participação da comunidade na definição e gestão das práticas museológicas, a museologia como factor de desenvolvimento, as questões de interdisciplinaridade, a utilização das “novas tecnologias” de informação e a museografia como meio autónomo de comunicação, são exemplo das questões decorrentes das práticas museológicas contemporâneas e fazem parte de uma crescente bibliografia especializada.

Em Portugal, apesar deste movimento ser mais recente, deve-se reconhecer que estas questões têm sido amplamente debatidas no presente contexto de descentralização, de reforço do poder autárquico e da democratização da vida cultural e associativa.

Refira-se a título de exemplo e em particular as “Jornadas sobre a função social do Museu” organizadas pelo MINOM (Movimento Internacional para uma Nova Museologia) em Vila Franca de Xira 1988, Portimão 1989, Vilarinho da Furna 1990, Lisboa 1991 e Setúbal 1992 e os “Encontros Nacionais de Museologia e Autarquias” que já tiveram lugar em Lisboa 1990, Beja 1991 e Setúbal 1992.

A importante participação nessas reuniões de museólogos, conservadores, autarcas, responsáveis associativos, investigadores e professores universitários, ligados sempre e de formas diferentes a processos museológicos que cobrem todo o país, testemunham claramente que a comunidade museológica portuguesa se integra e é cada vez mais actora neste processo geral de transformação, renovação e inovação que percorre os museus e a museologia.

É pois neste contexto nacional e internacional, que a formação no domínio da museologia, deve ser entendida como um factor fundamental no desenvolvimento das nossas estruturas museológicas.

Esta formação que em nosso entender deve ter obrigatoriamente por base o quadro geral da museologia, tal como está definido no Art. 3 do Estatuto do ICOM, deve ter também em consideração as novas condições sociais da produção museológica.