Canadian Bishops issue reflection and call to action on environment
The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is encouraging reflection and action on recent church teaching about the environment.
“In recent decades, papal statements have reminded Catholics the world over that we need to give heightened attention to the environment,” the bishops’ reflection begins. They point out that “many Catholics today are rightly concerned about the state of our natural environment.”
In order to assist them, their Justice and Peace Commission has put together an outline of eight central themes found in recent Church teaching on the environment. The six-page document can be downloaded at the Canadian Bishops website
In their release of this reflection on April 8, they asked Catholics to go beyond a discussion at the level of principles.
They are encouraging Catholic communities and people of faith to engage in dialogue with governmental policies and invoke the principles of faith-based teaching in respect to the environment. This is a call to action, a spokesman said.
Their document illustrates each of eight themes with relevant quotes from Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II and includes a short reflection.
The document’s first principle is: “Human beings are creatures made in God’s image.” It quotes Pope Benedict, who warned against the extremes of unbridled dominion over nature on one hand or in the other “absolutizing the environment or by considering it more important than the human person.”
The second principle stresses creation’s “intrinsic order” and natural law that can be ascertained through reason. The third principle, “‘Human ecology’ and its relationship to environmental ecology,” quotes Pope Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate where he ties respect for the “human ecology” of the marriage, the family and protection of life at all stages with protection of creation.
Other principles include responsible stewardship and solidarity with the vulnerable.
“Since environmental degradation is often related to poverty, solidarity demands that structural forms of poverty be addressed,” the document states. Solidarity also means care for future generations as well as for the poor.
Call to Action
There are a total of eight principles, the last one focusing on how to respond to current environmental problems. The bishops stress the “urgent need for action” and the need for policies that protect the common good and international cooperation.
“The church does not propose or evaluate specific technical solutions to our current environmental problems,” the bishops said. “Rather, her task is to remind people of the relationship between creation, human beings, and the Creator.”
The Canadian bishops provide a useful guide that draws on the rich resource in papal teachings about the natural environment. Such teachings are not well known, so this reflection guide helps to shows how the people of God can engage questions of the environment.