Friday, December 18, 2009

What the Pope REALLY Said About Ecology

One expects the press to miss the point when reporting on Papal documents. So here's a column which does NOT miss the point. Amazingly, the point was not 'to reduce carbon emissions...'

...At the center of the message is a biblical image: that of the garden of creation, entrusted by God to man and woman for them to protect and cultivate.

Nature therefore has no primacy over man, nor is man a tiny part of nature. Nor, in his turn, can man usurp the right to despoil nature instead of taking care of it.

Quoting the Pope's document:

...the true meaning of God’s original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility. The wisdom of the ancients had recognized that nature is not at our disposal as “a heap of scattered refuse” (Heraclitus, 535-475 B.C.).Biblical Revelation made us see that nature is a gift of the Creator, who gave it an inbuilt order and enabled man to draw from it the principles needed to “till it and keep it” (cf. Gen. 2:15).

Everything that exists belongs to God, who has entrusted it to man, albeit not for his arbitrary use. Once man, instead of acting as God’s co-worker, sets himself up in place of God, he ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, “which is more tyrannized than governed by him”.[12] Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it (Caritas in Veritate, 50).

Treating the Earth responsibly flows inextricably from treating the other person responsibly:

Young people cannot be asked to respect the environment if they are not helped, within families and society as a whole, to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible; it includes not only the environment but also individual, family and social ethics (Caritas in Veritate, 15.51). Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties towards the person, considered both individually and in relation to others.

Hence I readily encourage efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility which, as I indicated in my encyclical "Caritas in Veritate", would safeguard an authentic “human ecology” and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbour and respect for nature (Caritas in Veritate, 28.51.61).


...a correct understanding of the relationship between man and the environment will not end by absolutizing nature or by considering it more important than the human person. If the Church’s magisterium expresses grave misgivings about notions of the environment inspired by ecocentrism and biocentrism, it is because such notions eliminate the difference of identity and worth between the human person and other living things.

In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms.

The Church, for her part, is concerned that the question be approached in a balanced way, with respect for the “grammar” which the Creator has inscribed in his handiwork by giving man the role of a steward and administrator with responsibility over creation, a role which man must certainly not abuse, but also one which he may not abdicate. In the same way, the opposite position, which would absolutize technology and human power, results in a grave assault not only on nature, but also on human dignity itself (Caritas in Veritate, 70).

Yah, well. That's considerably different from the "sound-bite" version given by the MSM, eh?

1 comment:

Paul - Berry Laker said...

Thanks Dad.

I didn't have time to read and understand the Pope's writing. I just saw the headline and it gave me some concern.

Thanks again for doing your part to clarify for your son in Northern Wisconsin.

Merry Christmas to you and your family