Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
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Bishops and Priests (Page 2)
Catholics conserving nature and protecting life.™

Wisconsin Catholic Conference (USA)

Wisconsin is losing family farms at a rate of three or more a day. With the closing of each farm a building block of local civic life is removed, the rural economy is threatened, and farmland is placed in jeopardy of being converted to an alternate use... Our faith tradition tells us that the economy is not a distant force, it is a creation of people and it should function to serve people, not the other way around. In agriculture, the concentration of land ownership and the unrelenting focus on the bottom line compromise the health and welfare of individuals and the community and environment in which they live.  Wisconsin’s Catholic bishops urge Catholics and others to evaluate agricultural policies in light of the following principles: Human dignity and the fundamental right to food. The economy is for the person, not the other way around. Food is fundamental to life and therefore government should hold those engaged in the production, processing and distribution of food accountable for meeting the needs of current and future generations. Just compensation. Farmers should receive a just compensation for their labor and government structures should insure that monopolistic practices do not threaten to shut out small-scale producers. Stewardship of creation. Farmers are entrusted with the earth’s bounty to provide for current and future generations. This requires that we consider not only economic gain, but also the environmental cost. Life is not a commodity. Our care for nature and for God’s creatures reflects our care for one another. Subsidiarity. Centralized ownership and centralized decision-making can undermine democratic participation. Ownership of the means of production, the land and the animals, should be broadly distributed to achieve social goods. Local owners are invested not only in the future of their property but in the health and future of their local community. + A Catholic Perspective on Agriculture. March 2001 Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi If God disappears from the public square, our capacity to recognize the natural order, purpose, and the “good” begins to disappear. + September 2008 at a conference in Assisi Ten Guiding Principles of the Environment Presented by Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, at a congress on the theme "Ethics and the Environment" at the European University of Rome in 2005. These ten principles of environmental ethics are drawn from th Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. The Bishop was clear that these principles are not to be interpreted as replacing the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses. 1) The Bible lays out the fundamental moral principles of how to affront the ecological question. The human person, made in God's image, is superior to all other earthly creatures, which must be used and cared for in a responsible way. Christ's incarnation and his teachings testify to the value of nature: Nothing that exists in this world is outside the divine plan of creation and redemption. 2) The social teaching of the Church recalls two fundamental points. We should not reduce nature to a mere instrument to be manipulated and exploited. Nor should we make nature an absolute value, or put it above the dignity of the human person. 3) The question of the environment entails the whole planet, as it is a collective good. Our responsibility toward ecology extends to future generations. 4) It is necessary to confirm both the primacy of ethics and the rights of man over technology, thus preserving human dignity. The central point of reference for all scientific and technical applications must be respect for the human person, who in turn should treat the other created beings with respect. 5) Nature must not be regarded as a reality that is divine in itself; therefore, it is not removed from human action. It is, rather, a gift offered by our Creator to the human community, confided to human intelligence and moral responsibility. It follows, then, that it is not illicit to modify the ecosystem, so long as this is done within the context of a respect for its order and beauty, and taking into consideration the utility of every creature. 6) Ecological questions highlight the need to achieve a greater harmony both between measures designed to foment economic development and those directed to preserving the ecology, and between national and international policies. Economic development, moreover, needs to take into consideration the integrity and rhythm of nature, because natural resources are limited. And all economic activity that uses natural resources should also include the costs of safeguarding the environment into the calculations of the overall costs of its activity. 7) Concern for the environment means that we should actively work for the integral development of the poorest regions. The goods of this world have been created by God to be wisely used by all. These goods should be shared, in a just and charitable manner. The principle of the universal destiny of goods offers a fundamental orientation to deal with the complex relationship between ecology and poverty. 8) Collaboration, by means of worldwide agreements, backed up by international law, is necessary to protect the environment. Responsibility toward the environment needs to be implemented in an adequate way at the juridical level. These laws and agreements should be guided by the demands of the common good. 9) Lifestyles should be oriented according to the principles of sobriety, temperance and self- discipline, both at the personal and social levels. People need to escape from the consumer mentality and promote methods of production that respect the created order, as well as satisfying the basic needs of all. This change of lifestyle would be helped by a greater awareness of the interdependence between all the inhabitants of the earth. 10) A spiritual response must be given to environmental questions, inspired by the conviction that creation is a gift that God has placed in the hands of mankind, to be used responsibly and with loving care. People's fundamental orientation toward the created world should be one of gratitude and thankfulness. The world, in fact, leads people back to the mystery of God who has created it and continues to sustain it. If God is forgotten, nature is emptied of its deepest meaning and left impoverished. If, instead, nature is rediscovered in its role as something created, mankind can establish with it a relationship that takes into account its symbolic and mystical dimensions. This would open for mankind a path toward God, creator of the heavens and the earth.

Archbishop J. Francis Stafford

Without God, there can be no plan to creation. All is either by chance or necessity. For the Christian, all created beings have meaning; they are part of a grand symphony giving glory to the one triune God who out of love freely creates the world. But once God is excised, the symphony becomes discordant. The harmony unravels. The center does not hold. + Address to the International Congress on the Family in Lima, Peru, August 1994.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

 I think that we must help to recover the harmony between humanity and the universe that God willed to give, at the moment of creation.  What is important is to favor ecological education, because we live in this world that God has given us and that, at times, has been destroyed by avarice and people's sin.  I believe that, in face of the process of economic globalization, many people are asking themselves the question again about the idea of the common good, beginning with the fact of the real interdependence that exists in the world today. For example, what changes the climate in an area of the earth, through contamination - suffice it to think of Chernobyl - also has effects throughout the world. What happens to the economy in one part of the world, has an effect in other areas of the planet in questions like employment, and social and economic stability. Interdependence is a reality. A solidarity that corresponds to it must be constructed." + Vatican Radio Interview, June 21, 2001. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is the permanent observer of the Vatican at the United Nations in Geneva. Growth is important, but it must go hand in hand with justice, safeguarding of the environment, stability, and human and social benefits. The “global good” must be taken into account, that is, protection of workers and their families, social cohesion, and respect for the environment. The Jubilee of the World of Agriculture calls us to re-consider the relationship between humanity and creation. We need a model of development based on solidarity. If it creates new exclusions, if it is based on economic exploitation, which uses the goods of the earth only for profit, it is not in keeping with God's plan, which is a model of harmony and unity, because God created the universe for the good of all.  + As Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, November 17, 2000   Three fundamental principles of sustainable development Sustainable development, in fact, requires policies which aim at establishing an effective combination of three fundamental principles: 1. the unique dignity and the inalienable rights of every human person, 2. the unity of humankind, constituted as a single family, within which all of us share in responsibility and solidarity for others, 3. the unity of all creation, which serves the needs of humankind, but which can never be considered just as the personal property of some, but is rather entrusted in stewardship to humankind for the good of its present and future generations. The challenge is to ensure the full advancement of all three principles. The fight for human rights, the quest for solidarity and development and our efforts to protect the integrity of creation must go hand in hand. We must forge a broad concept of sustainable development, understood as a charter for holistic, comprehensive human development which fosters at the same time a qualitative interaction between the fundamental needs of persons, the human family and the environment. Sustainable development can be a path to foster harmony among human beings and between human beings and creation, a path to true peace. + L'Osservatore Romano, pp. 3 and 4, Vatican, October 17, 2001 Archbishop Renato Martino VATICAN (CWN) - Speaking to a United Nations meeting on the environment and development, Archbishop Renato Martin - the Vatican's permanent observer at the UN - argued that it is essential to protect the world's air, water, and soil. He said that the Vatican approach to the question of development was governed by three basic principles, of which the first and foremost is respect for the central dignity of the human person. The second basic principle, Archbishop Martino continued, is the common heritage of the world's resources. Citing the teaching of Vatican II (in Gaudium et Spes) and Pope John Paul II, he pointed out that the fruits of God's creation are intended to be used by all men in common. And the third principle is that all human persons have the right to pursue their own economic development. From these basic principles, Martino continued, several ethical generalizations may be drawn. Developing countries should have the right to participate in the global economy; women should have the opportunity to share in the progress of their societies; access to information and technology should be widely shared; the policies of nations should be designed with an eye to the welfare of young people and future generations. + October 25, 1996 Perhaps We Need "A Third Revolution" At the end of the last century, mankind looked back at its achievements of the last one hundred years and felt justifiably proud. It had unlocked the secrets of the atom and had split the nucleus to unleash its energy, it had discovered that the universe is expanding, that life’s architecture is based on a beautifully simple double helix of DNA and it had traveled to the moon not to conquer but to learn. We are entitled to a moment of reflection on God’s gift of the human intellect. However, then came the realization that the same mankind that had understood the forces of nature had left out one of them: mankind itself had become a force of nature, so powerful as to be potentially capable of changing our world for centuries to come. This force has brought about the greenhouse effect and the scientific community at large is now in broad agreement as to the implications of this man-enhanced phenomenon. Indeed, "there is a new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last fifty years is attributed to human activities" and that coming changes will affects all aspects of the environment and societal well-being, especially for the poor, the vulnerable and the generations yet unborn. (IPCC; "Climate Change 2001, The Scientific Basis", 2001) The history of humanity has been punctuated by various sorts of revolutions. The first revolution occurred thousands of years ago, at the end of the last ice age, when mankind used "knowledge" to sow seeds and found a more stable and predictable source of food. The second revolution began almost three hundred years ago with the industrial revolution when "knowledge" was used to obtain energy, no longer from animals or the wind but from coal and steam. That engineering feat unleashed the build-up of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. More than one hundred years ago, the Swedish chemist S. Arrhenius warned that a doubling of carbon dioxide gas may have dire consequences for humankind and now that phenomenon has been recognized in its full dimension. Nature required one million years to produce the amount of fossil fuel that humanity burns in only one year.   The activities of twenty-five percent of the world’s population are responsible for almost seventy-five percent of the global emission of greenhouse gases. Global warming [a.k.a. climate change], as it is popularly called, is global in scale. It recognizes no boundaries, no nationalities, no cultural divides. It is the great equalizer with unpleasant consequences. Responses to such a phenomenon should reflect our interdependence and common responsibility for the present and the future of our planet, taking into account the important role that the virtue of prudence could play in addressing climate change. Prudence is intelligence applied to our actions through knowledge and wisdom and it is not merely a careful and safe approach to decisions, but rather a thoughtful and reasoned basis for taking or eluding action to attain a moral good and promote the achievement of common good (United States Catholic Bishops: Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, June 2001). Perhaps we need a "third revolution" in which we use our knowledge once again. Knowledge is a public good, one we can share with others without losing it. Knowledge will help us move from a model that is resource intensive to one that is knowledge intensive. Knowledge is an unlimited natural resource. Instead of burning coal and wood, we must begin to burn knowledge so that finally the people of the world will count for more than they produce, that the human person will truly be the center of our concerns for sustainable development. We should not become a civilization that knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. After his Angelus Message, on the eve of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development, Pope John Paul II shared thoughts that are as relevant even today and appropriate as we prepare for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, to be held in Johannesburg in September, 2002. "This important meeting - he said - sets out to examine in depth the relationship between protection of the environment and the development of peoples. These are problems which have, at their roots, a profound ethical dimension, and which involve, therefore, the human person, the center of creation, with those rights of freedom which derive from his dignity of being made in the image of God and with the duties which every person has towards the future generations." "I invite all to pray - he continued - with me that the high representatives of the various nations of the world...will be farseeing in their deliberations and will know how to orientate humanity along the path of solidarity with humankind and of responsibility in the common commitment to the protection of the earth which God has given us" (Pope John Paul II, Message before the Angelus, St. Peter’s Square, 31 May 1992). Knowledge is the only true inexhaustible resource that assures a sustainable environment and development and...only knowledge, together with an ethical sense of our relationship with the environment, can help to guide our efforts today and for future generations. + Environment and sustainable development: Protecting of global climate for present and future generations of mankind, November 28, 2001 For environment ... read Creation. The mastery of man over Creation must not be despotic or senseless. Man must cultivate and safeguard God's Creation.   + Quoted in The Guardian, Friday 27 April 2007.

Bolivian Bishops' Conference

“Technical and economic progress has given many positive things to the Latin American people.   Unfortunately it has still to reach most of the Latin American families, which still live in poverty... With progress also comes a culture of consumerism which creates false needs and expectations,” with the consequence of “making people prone to do almost anything to get material goods, leaving aside any ethical aspect.”       + CWN, September 19, 1997

Catholic Bishops of the Philippines

We...know that the Earth will not be mocked. Even now nature is lashing back at us and taking its revenge. Though we try to squeeze more and more from our lands, they produce less food.   The air in our cities is heavy with noxious fumes. Instead of bringing energy and life it caused bronchial illness. Our forests are almost gone, our rivers are almost empty, our springs and wells no longer sparkle with living water... Our lakes and estuaries are silting up. An out-of- sight, out-of-mind mentality flushes toxic waste and mine tailing into our rivers and seas in the mistaken belief that they can no longer harm us. Because the living world is interconnected, the poison is absorbed by marine organisms. We in turn are being gradually poisoned when we eat seafood. We Filipino have a deep devotion to Mary. We turn to her for help and protection in time of need.   We know that she is on the side of the poor and those who are rejected (Lk 1:52). Our new sensitivity to what is happening to our land also tells us that she is on the side of life. As a mother she is pained and saddened when she sees people destroy the integrity of creation through soil erosion, blast-fishing or poisoning land. Many know what the consequences of this destruction are. Therefore, as Mother of Life, she challenges us to abandon the pathway of death and return to the way of life.


Hildebert of Lavardin, Archbishop of Tours (1056-1133)

God is over all things, under all things, outside all things, within, but not enclosed, without, but not excluded...wholly without, embracing, wholly within, filling. + Quoted in We are Home: A Spirituality of the Environment, by Shannon Jung. 1993. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press

Catholic Bishops of the Appalachian Region (USA)

There is a saying in the region that “coal is king”. That's not exactly right. The kings are those who control big coal, and the profits and power that come with it. Many of these kings don't live in the region. The way of life which these corporate giants create is called by some “technological rationalization.” Its forces contain the promise of a better world, but too often its forces become perverted, hostile to the dignity of the earth and its people. Its destructive growth patterns pollute the air, foul the water, rape the land. The driving force behind this perversion is “maximization of profit”, a principle which too often converts itself into an idolatrous power. This power overwhelms the good intentions of good people. It forces them to compete brutally with one another. It pushes people into conspicuous consumptions and planned obsolescence. It delivers up control to a tiny minority, whose values then shape our social structures.

Bishop John Jukes, OFM Conv

The ecological question, to which Christians and others have responded by proclaiming that mankind is simply a steward of this world, can be met only by including the vision of co- creator... Mankind is not established by God in this world to simply tend it, seeking to return to and preserve an original state of innocence and good order. The title of co-creator, which is part of the Christian vision of our relationship with God indicates a dynamic reality. God in his mercy and love for mankind has commissioned us to employ our intellects and wills in using and shaping this earth for the common utility and advance of the race. In so doing mankind offers testimony and praise to God especially by the service of fellow human beings. As Pope John Paul insists over and over again it is man who is the measure of creation. It is the service of man by man which is the guiding principle of the decisions and initiatives that are taken in the use of this world. Care must be taken to preserve and promote the moral and spiritual heritage of the human race. So it is from the basis of truth about the nature of man, his destiny with God, his dignity and purpose in this creation, which are the points of reference for decisions and enterprises which use and shape this creation. The mortgaging or putting at risk of future generations of human beings is clearly contrary to the divine purpose of establishing mankind in this creation as co-creator. That risk extends not only to a matter of simple existence on this planet but also any risk which would tend to diminish the human spirit of being servant of the most high God especially through service of each other. Thus we see how a spirit of consumerism which is the simple unthought-out response to any human desire, especially for some passing profit, does not accord with the reality of being a co-creator. Similarly the employment of our powers of use and manipulation of material things to gain power over other human beings or to encourage immoral interventions especially in the destruction of human life, is an abnegation or misuse of the power given us by God. The growth of a spirituality of work in the context of the rapid and vast expansion of human control over the forces of the natural world given us by God, is a matter which calls for a serious response from those who exercise leadership in Christian communities.  + February 5, 2001, Whitehall College, Bishop's Stortford

National Conference of Catholic Bishops (USA)

...our cooperation as stewards with God's work of creation in general takes several forms... One of these is a profound reverence for the great gift of life, for our own lives and the lives of others, along with a readiness to spend ourselves serving all that preserves and enhances life.   This reverence and readiness begin with opening one's eyes to how precious the gift really is.


Australian Bishops' Committee for Justice, Development, and Peace

We believe that, however the universe came into being, however the human race began, God is the Creator of the universe and of the human race. In this belief we find the origins of our conviction that, as Christians, we have an ethical duty to respect the gifts of creation, to give thanks for them, and to use them in accord with the will of God, as best we can interpret. Read more ->
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