Care for God's Creation
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of Gods creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.
Quotes from Church Documents:
A true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. . . . Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si'. . . ],nos. 49, 91)
The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity. Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. Since the world has been given to us, we can no longer view reality in a purely utilitarian way, in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit. Intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us. (Pope Francis, On Care for Our Common Home [Laudato Si'. . . ], no. 159)
The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. . . Our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. (Pope Benedict XVI, Charity in Truth [Caritas in Veritate]. . . , nos. 48, 51)
Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. . . . Man, who discovers his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work, forgets that this is always based on God's prior and original gift of the things that are. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray. Instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus. . . ], no. 37)
Modern Environmental Issues:
Current environmental issues are related to other social concerns, such as the protection of human life, poverty, and consumerism. The virtue of solidarity is essentail to protecting the environment. The root of the modern ecological crisis is a moral problem and it shows a disrespect for life. The exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of animal and plant life have contributed to ecological imbalances in our world today. In many places, we have developed a culture of waste. A society that will dispose of God's good earth will find it easier to dispose of people as well.
The Environmental Reality Today:
•Clean water is essential to life.
- Some 800 Million people do not have access to clean water
- 1 out of 10 people drink/use polluted water.
- Nearly 3.4 million people die each year from water-related disease.
•Air pollution is a major environmental risk to human health.
- Air pollution is responsible for 2 million premature deaths each year.
•Deforestation is threatening to all life on earth.
- Rainforests used to cover 14% of the earth’s surface… Now they only cover 6%.
- If rainforests disappear, almost 50% of the world’s species will be destroyed or threatened.
(The above information was taken from: Foundations of Catholic Social Teaching, Ave Maria Press. p. 288-289)
Rules for Stewardship:
1.You can use the earth’s resources – including animals, plants, and sources of energy – but you can’t do so haphazardly without any effort to replenish them and maintain the natural balance of resources.
2.You must look out for future generations, who will also have to use natural resources.
3.Be vigilant against unchecked industrialization. Certain types of manufacturing produce pollution that not only hurts the created world, but also affects the health and well-being of humans.
Stewardship - A steward is one who takes care of something as if it was his own, when ultimately it is not. In regards to the environment, all of creation belongs to God but he has given humans dominion over it. We are called to cultivate and care for his creation.