The joy of the Gospel – Care for creation
Environmental Stewardship – Fruit of the Earth and Work of Human Hands
In his newly released apostolic exhortation,
Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis calls on us to care for all creation. He writes, “I am speaking of creation as a whole. We human beings are not only the beneficiaries, but also the stewards of other creatures. Thanks to our bodies, God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement. Let us not leave in our wake a swath of destruction and death which will affect our own lives and those of future generations... Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples.”
In 1989 the Ontario Catholic Bishops published a document about the agricultural community entitled “The People and the Land”. Now, 25 years later, our Ontario Bishops have brought forward an early 21st century look at Ontario’s farming issues in a reflection entitled “
Fruit of the Earth and Work of Human Hands
”. This document is well worth reading by both urban dwellers and farmers, as it helps us understand the issues at hand and encourages us to make ethical lifestyle choices that promote safe, sustainable Ontario agriculture. This document, plus a Facilitator’s Workshop Guide are available on
the Recent News section of the Ontario Bishops’ website
Building a New Culture: Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment
The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a pastoral letter,
Building a New Culture:
Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment.
The document offers an outline of eight central themes found in Church teaching on the environment and is designed to serve as a guide for discussion, reflection, and decision-making on the very real environmental problems we face today. Full information, including
brief texts designed for publication in parish bulletins
, is available on the
Environmental stewardship – Pope Francis' call to youth
meeting with youth on January 18 in the Philippines
, Pope Francis identified climate change as a critical issue. As he said to the youth, “You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ! We need to see, with the eyes of faith, the beauty of God’s saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person... As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.”
Pope Francis speaks to bishops of Brazil on protecting the environment
On the last full day of World Youth Day, Pope Francis spoke forcefully about the environment to the Bishops of Brazil. He emphasized the importance of the Church’s place in protecting the environment, citing the “Amazon Basin as a litmus test for Church and society in Brazil.” He further stated, “I would like to invite everyone to reflect on what [Our Lady] of Aparecida said about the Amazon Basin, its forceful appeal for respect and protection of the entire creation which God has entrusted to man, not so that it be indiscriminately exploited, but rather made into a garden.” Let us heed our pontiff’s words and recognize our responsibility in protecting our environment – a litmus test for our Church and society in Canada.
Environmental stewardship - The sacrament of charity
Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in his exhortation The Sacrament of Charity, states, “Christian people when giving thanks to God through the Eucharist, should be conscious that they do so in the name of all creation, aspiring to the sanctification of the world and working intensely to that end.” In following a Eucharistic way of life we experience the blessings of our sacred earth and our responsibilities to it. This week take time to reflect on how each conscious act of environmental stewardship affects your experience of faith grounded in the Eucharist. Some examples: living simply, conserving energy and water, having an energy audit, taking public transportation, bringing your own bags when shopping, re-using rather than throwing away, helping the poor affected by climate change and environmental degradation.
Stewardship of creation: Living a culture of life in all its expressions
In his Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate - On Integral Human Development in Charity and Truth, Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing she must defend not only earth, water, and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction.” According to our pontiff, human ecology and environmental ecology go hand in hand. Our moral calling is to live a culture of life in all its expressions. We advocate for stewardship of creation by urging our elected representatives to show leadership in combatting all forms of environmental degradation. We take actions as individuals, as families, as parishes and as schools. We pray.
Catholics in name, Catholics in life - Stewards of creation
Increasingly we see the destructive impact of materialistic lifestyles on our sacred planet. We witness the ongoing degradation of earth, water and air and the ravages of climate change. As stated by Pope emeritus Benedict in his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, “The Church has a responsibility toward creation and must assert this responsibility in the public sphere.“ He further wrote that how we live is critical to the survival of humankind. As Catholics, we need to embrace an effective shift in mentality leading to the adoption of lifestyles that protect the gifts of creation. We must not only be Catholics in name. We must be Catholics in life. If we live as stewards of creation we are in a position by our example to call on government leaders to effect changes that support a culture of life in all of its manifestations.
At this critical stage in human history, we call upon all Catholics to bear witness to Church teachings on the environment. We are far more powerful as agents of change when we seek government action to support our sacred earth when we live our faith. We are not only Catholics in name, we are Catholics in life - moving to new lifestyles that respect both human ecology (human life issues) and environmental ecology (stewardship of all creation). According to Pope emeritus Benedict, we must respect both so as to not lose the integrity of either.
Nuclear Energy and Catholic Social Teachings
We have faced serious nuclear power plant accidents in recent years, including the Fukushima disaster (2011), the Chernobyl disaster (1986) and the Three Mile Island Accident (1979). As we move away from fossil fuels it is critical that we implement alternatives that demonstrate care for all life on earth. Recent writings and statements of Pope Francis call into serious question the use of nuclear energy which according to the Bishops of Japan should be abolished. Please click here for a summary of information related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and to the words of our Holy Father and the Bishops of Japan concerning the use of nuclear energy.