Sunday, July 1, 2007

Respect for Human Life & Nature Linked

A consistent respect for human life, must extend to respect for all Creation.

The Church approaches the care and protection of the environment from the point of view of the human person. Men and women are created in the image and likeness of God. Fostering and protecting human life and dignity, from conception to natural death, lies at the heart of the Church's social teachings. We now realize that respect for human life and respect for nature are inextricably linked.

This is one of seven stated Themes of Ecological Responsibility

According to Pope John Paul II,

"Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past. The public in general as well as political leaders are concerned about this problem, and experts from a wide range of disciplines are studying its causes. Moreover, a new ECOLOGICAL AWARENESS is beginning to emerge which, rather than being downplayed, ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programs and initiatives." *4

Shamefully, the reverse is also true: Our lack of respect for life extends also to the rest of Creation and is an underlying cause of social injustice and environmental destruction. The right to life precedes and underlies every other social and environmental issue or group of issues. The the womb is the most endangered human environment in the world today.
Long before the current ecological movement developed, saints taught respect for all of God's Creation.

St. Ignatius of Loyola said, "Man is created to praise, revere and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul. The other things on the face of the earth are created for man to help him in attaining the end for which he is created. Hence, man is to make use of them in as far as they help him in the attainment of his end."

"The Catholic approach to environmental justice is based on the two commandments of Jesus Christ: to love God above all things and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Love of God requires respect for God's gifts and for God's will for Creation. Love of neighbor requires justice, which prohibits the selfish destruction of the environment without regard for those in need today or for the needs of future generations. "
Mick, Fr. Lawrence E. Liturgy and Ecology in Dialogue. 1997. The Liturgical Press. Collegeville, Minnesota, USA

The Catholic attitude toward nature, in a word, is stewardship. Stewardship is the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care. From the first pages of the Bible, we are instructed to "cultivate and care for" God's Creation (Genesis 2:15).

Created in the image and likeness of God, we are granted dominion over the rest of Creation (Genesis 1:26-28). Dominion means that we have sovereignty over and responsibility for the well-being of God's Creation. Our dominion must resemble God's dominion. We must cultivate and care for the Earth as God does, with love and wisdom.

I, personally get overwhelmed with the changes we need to make as a community, a society, a country, a global family. I have started with what I can control:

  • the foods we buy and serve
  • the gas, electricity and water we use
  • the products I use in my home, on my body and for my family. The environmental toxins most consumers produce are staggering. We are poisoning our own homes and bodies by creating and living in a virtual Toxic Brew.

I encourage all my friends and family to start small. One small change does make a difference and hopefully it puts us on a common path towards more healthy choices. Keeping in mind that we are to be good stewards of all that God has given us; we (not just the government, the other guys, our neighbors but WE) are responsible for what we do to our bodies and our environment. Caring and taking on that personal responsibility is the first step; learning is the next. Healthier choices come naturally after that.

Catholic Conservation Center
Liturgy and Ecology in Dialogue by Fr. Lawrence E. Mick, 1997. The Liturgical Press
The Best Nest
*4) excerpt of Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the WORLD DAY OF PEACE, January 1, 1990
Toxic Brew PBS Canada

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post & timely too as my kids are getting a lot of 'we must look after the planet' indoctrination...

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