Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
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Bishops and Priests (Page 3)
Catholics conserving nature and protecting life.™

The Church in the Dominican Republic

 The nation cannot continue neglecting to preserve and improve the environment in which we live. No ecological imbalance continues without redress. Human sins against nature redound always to the detriment of humankind itself. It is not right that those who have greater resources, whether countries, cities, groups, or individuals, should lean toward excessive consumption which, in addition to being a provocative insult to the poor, is an evil misappropriation of natural resources necessary for the have-nots of the world. 

The Church in Brazil

 Creation is the dwelling of the life-giving Spirit of God, just as the Word dwells in the humanity of Jesus. 

Consejo Episcopal LatinoAmericano

Once again we affirm that the consumptionist tendencies of the more developed nations must undergo a thorough revision. They must take into account the elementary needs of the poor peoples who constitute the majority of the world's population. 

Council of European Bishop's Conferences

The urgent need for reconciliation - between industrialized and developing countries, between rich and poor within each country, and also between humankind and God's creation as a whole impels the churches to encourage Christians to rethink their very way of life. 

German Bishops' Conference

A key concern of the German Bishops is the rate of technological growth and the still too "prevalent view that man can exploit nature without restraint and all things technically feasible should be put into practice." 

Polish Bishops

All man's activity, as the activity of a responsible agent, has a moral dimension. Destruction of the environment harms the good of creation given to man by God the Creator as something indispensable for his life and his development. We have a duty to make good use of this gift in a spirit of gratitude and respect. The realization that this gift is destined for all men, that it is a common good, also gives rise to a corresponding duty with regard to others. We therefore need to realize that every action which ignores God's rights over his world, as well as the rights of man bestowed upon him by the Creator, is in conflict with the commandment of love... We need to realize therefore that there can be a grave sin against the natural environment, one which weighs on our consciences, and which calls for grave responsibility towards God the Creator (2 May 1989).

Bishops of Alberta, Canada

Genesis contains a clear and repeated message that creation, sun and stars, land and seas, animals and plants, is good in God's eyes. All creation is called to give praise to God (Daniel 3:35-68). Humans, very much part of God's creation, are created male and female in the image and likeness of God and have a special role and responsibility within creation.   Humans are called to exercise dominion over the earth, a dominion of service, wisdom and love. Another Genesis passage describes the task of women and men to be one of “cultivating and caring for creation” (Genesis 2:15).   Part of human sin has been to see ourselves as separate from the rest of creation, seeing the natural world only as a source of profit and personal gain. To overcome this sin, we need to affirm our place within the dynamic web of creation which supports and sustains all life.    We can learn much from the spiritual tradition of our aboriginal brothers and sisters who celebrate our kinship with the rest of creation and seek to strengthen the sacred circle of all creation.    Catholics see creation in a “sacramental” way. The abundance and beauty of God's creation reveals to us something of the generosity of the Creator. God is present and speaks in the dynamic life forces of our universe and planet as well as in our own lives. Respect for life needs to include all creation.  Catholic spirituality and sacramental practice are rooted in the belief that basic materials such as water, grain made into bread and grapes made into wine can communicate and convey God's saving action into our midst. Ecological destruction and the loss of biodiversity obscure our ability to see and experience God and are an affront to the Creator. The fate of the natural world and human life are fully intertwined. Ecological destruction harms human life, and human social injustice inevitably has ecological consequences. As we look around us and read the “signs of the times”, we face a challenging time of crisis and opportunity. This is a time to make important decisions. In religious terms, this time is a call to conversion. + Celebrate Life: Care for Creation, 1998

Catholic Bishops of the Midwest (USA)

The way in which we relate to the land will affect the extent to which the land will continue to provide our sustenance and livelihood. + Strangers and Guests

Catholic Bishops of the Columbia River Watershed (USA)

Respect for life needs to include all creation. This sacramental commons (earth) is not for humans alone. It is intended by God to provide for all of God's creatures as they live in ecological relationship.    + Pastoral Letter on the Columbia River - Draft, May 1999  As persons created in the image of God and as stewards of creation (Genesis 1-2), we are challenged to both use and respect created things. There are many signs of the presence of God in this book of nature, signs that complement the understandings of God revealed in the pages of the Bible, both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.   We hold this land in trust for our present use, for future generations, and ultimately for God, from whom all good things come.   One of the key concepts that applies to our entire discussion is simple respect. Industry must respect people and nature and take particular care to be cognizant of its impact on the common good. People must exercise a basic respect for one another, for God, for other creatures and for the environment. Individuals also need to respect the rights of others, including those engaged in agriculture, mining, forestry, and the like.   We must become increasingly aware of the needs of people, our neighbors; of the sanctity of life, from conception to natural death; and of the integrated ecosystem whose benefits and complexities we share.      We are called to relate to people as neighbors and to our shared place as our common home. We recognize our responsibility for this place, a sign of God's creative power that is blessed by God's presence.   God, who alone can create, invites people to participate in divine creativity. Thus, humans have a unique role. In the physical universe, they alone are consciously able to be caretakers of creation. In the physical order, only humans, with the abilities granted to them, can understand creatures soaring in the heights or swimming in the depths, and can come to know the laws of biology, chemistry, and physics that influence creation. They are called to use these understandings to describe, celebrate, develop, and care for creation. They are created in the image and likeness of God and are commissioned as stewards of God's created and beautiful universe.   Stewardship is the traditional Christian expression of the role of people in relation to creation. Stewards, as caretakers for the things of God, are called to use wisely and distribute justly the goods of God's earth to meet the needs of God's children. They are to care for the earth as their home and as a beautiful revelation of the creativity, goodness, and love of God. Creation is a “book of nature” in whose living pages people can see signs of the Spirit of God present in the universe, yet separate from it.   Creation provides the opportunity for spiritual contemplation because it is from God and reveals God.   In the created universe we may perceive the brush strokes of a loving God.   Each portion of creation can be sign and revelation for the person of faith, a moment of grace revealing God's presence to us.   As the whole universe can be a source of blessing or revelation of God, so also the commons of a local place can be revelatory.   The startling beauty of a snowcapped mountain or a colorful sunset, a river valley or a starlit night, the sight of a well-kept farm integrated with its surroundings or the free flight of a bird - all point beyond themselves to the Creator of the universe. As people have become more absorbed by material things and less conscious of spiritual and social relationships, consumerism has replaced compassion, and exploitation of the earth has replaced stewardship. There is a need for a spiritual conversion to a better and deeper sense of stewardship for God's creation and responsibility for our communities.   Those involved in the debate and decisions must consider scientific studies, community needs, and ecological impacts in making decisions which are ultimately political but which must stem from a spiritual and ethical base.   The poor suffer more than other segments of the population from job loss, low wages, poor working conditions, and environmental degradation. The Church, in the spirit of Christ, exercises a preferential, but not exclusive, option for the poor; that is, we are called as a people to help them acquire justice, respect, and an inherent sense of dignity, and to participate in transforming economic and political structures to create a just society and a sustainable environment.   The reign of God proclaimed by Jesus is present and yet to come. Signs of its presence are evident in people's efforts to restore God's creation and live in harmony with the earth and all creatures, and in struggles to promote justice in human communities.   Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the minds and hearts of the people of the region so that, being renewed, they may cooperate with your Spirit and together renew the face of the earth. 

World Synod of Bishops     

 Despite an increasing sensitivity to ecology, even the earth is suffering–perhaps as never before in human history – from climatic changes in the ecosystem, thus raising questions about the future of our planet. The degradation of the environment is a worrying concern. The Church takes it upon herself to give voice to the true aspirations of humanity in favor of an ecological balance which does not put at risk our earth and the whole creation made by the Creator’s hands and given to humanity as the abode of beauty and balance, a gift and basic resource of all human existence. + SYNOD OF BISHOPS, X ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY,    THE BISHOP: SERVANT OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE HOPE OF THE WORLD INTRUMENTUM LABORIS  2001 © The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Although in general it is difficult to draw a line between what is needed for right use and what is demanded by prophetic witness, we must certainly keep firmly to this principle: our faith demands of us a certain sparingness in use, and the Church is obliged to live and administer its own goods in such a way that the Gospel is proclaimed to the poor. If instead the Church appears to be among the rich and the powerful of this world its credibility is diminished... Such is the demand for resources and energy by the richer nations, whether capitalist or socialist, and such are the effects of dumping by them in the atmosphere and the sea that irreparable damage would be done to the essential elements of life on earth, such as air and water, if their high rates of consumption and pollution, which are constantly on the increase, were extended to the whole of humanity... It is impossible to see what right the richer nations have to keep up their claim to increase their own material demands, if the consequence is either that others remain in misery or that the danger of destroying the very physical foundations of life on earth is precipitated. Those who are already rich are bound to accept a less material way of life, with less waste, in order to avoid the destruction of the heritage which they are obliged by absolute justice to share with all other members of the human race... The entire creation has been groaning till now in an act of giving birth, as it waits for the glory of the children of God to be revealed (cf. Let Christians therefore be convinced that they will yet find the fruits of their own nature and effort cleansed of all impurities in the new earth which God is now preparing for them, and in which there will be the kingdom of justice and love, a kingdom which will be fully perfected when the Lord will come himself. Hope in the coming kingdom is already beginning to take root in the hearts of people. The radical transformation of the world in the Paschal Mystery of the Lord gives full meaning to the efforts of people, and in particular of the young, to lessen injustice, violence and hatred and to advance all together in justice, freedom, kinship and love. At the same time as it proclaims the Gospel of the Lord, its Redeemer and Savior, the Church calls on all, especially the poor, the oppressed and the afflicted, to cooperate with God to bring about liberation from every sin and to build a world which will reach the fullness of creation only when it becomes the work of people for people. + Justice in the World, 1971.

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran

Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican secretary for relations with states, has asked the members of the United Nations to remember that "the cause of the environment is the cause of man." The archbishop pointed out that 50 million people in the world are now homeless because of degraded environmental conditions in their homelands. These people must be a top priority in any effort to remedy environmental problems, he said. "Environmental questions cannot be reduced to technical issues," he reasoned; "they must be considered from a human perspective." Environmental questions also have a spiritual dimension, Archbishop Tauran said, insofar as man is the steward of God's creation. He said that to put the agreements of the Rio conference into place, world leaders would need to educate the population. This emphasis on education - a regular feature of Vatican interventions in the work of the United Nations - is required because, the archbishop said, "the atmosphere created by teaching and witness can form in young people a respect for nature, for economy in the use of resources, and for taking their part in protecting the gifts that are our resources." (1997) 

Archbishop Francisco Javier Errazuriz of Santiago

When asked about the ecology theme, the Archbishop praised the advance Chile has made in this aspect. But he also noted the error of many ecologists that "don't reflect about what nature means as creation, and respect the lives of all species but that of human beings. That is being incoherent with themselves." + Church News, 1999  

Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales  

Christians believe that God is the creator of all things, visible and invisible. Every corner of creation is sustained by God's creative will; the laws of nature, including the laws of human nature, are laws made by God. There is no part of creation, therefore, that cannot be examined with the eye of faith, the better to understand its relation to the rest and its ultimate purposes. The Church recognizes that care for the environment is part of care for the common good - the environment is one of the 'common goods' which are the shared responsibility of the human race. We have to reject some of the easy assumptions of an earlier stage of industrialization, such as that the human race, because God had given it dominion over the world, had an unlimited freedom to despoil the natural environment for its own purposes. Those who feel moved to a loving care for the internal balances of nature are responding to a deep religious instinct implanted within them by God. Their intuition tells them that the human race takes its place on this planet as a gift and privilege, and needs to cultivate what the new Catechism of the Catholic Church calls a “religious respect for the integrity of creation” (paragraph 2415). Our environmental “common goods” are not only available for careful use and enjoyment today, but are held in trust for the use and enjoyment of future generations. Public authorities must never treat them as having no intrinsic worth, nor commercial concerns see them merely as sources of profit or loss. Regarded in those terms, the environment is a great repository of natural wealth, belonging to all humanity, present and future, freely and equally. Because of this environmental mortgage that the future holds over the present, none of this natural wealth can be owned outright, as if nobody but the owner had any say in its disposal. Each generation takes the natural environment on loan, and must return it after use in as good or better condition as when it was first borrowed. In recent years one of the prime duties of public authorities has become the careful conservation of this environmental dimension of the 'common good'. Damage to the environment is no respecter of frontiers, and damage done by one generation has the capacity to damage future generations. + The Common Good and the Catholic Church's Social Teaching, 1996

Catholic Bishops of Northern Mexico

We must rethink our attitudes toward the forests... Greed has been pushing forest exploitation... Social and environmental costs include the drying of the springs, expanding desertification, forcing village people to emigrate to the cities or the U. S., increasing summer temperatures, and forcing water rationing in cities. The village life which the forest used to nourish has been virtually destroyed... Lumber companies with no vision of the future have been insensitive to the needs of the people. They have placed economic incentives before all else, and have created a 'circle of corruption' which filters into all parts of rural life. If we do not stop the devastating logic of this vicious circle, it will drag us to our deaths... The protection of the forests requires urgent measures... The forest is not mere food for industry... The forest is a giver of life for its inhabitants. For these reasons we appeal to the conscience of everyone and urge all Christians to take responsibility for preserving the life on this planet that God has entrusted to our care. All of this makes it our obligation to...denounce the ecological devastation we are witnessing... + April 2000 Pastoral Letter

Most Rev. James T. McHugh, Bishop of Camden

...protecting the environment protects the common good of humanity - now and for untold centuries to come. And the common good supersedes individual comfort and convenience, for when the common good is ignored or denied, the good of the individual is likewise endangered... God entrusted all creation to the man and woman. We inherit the goods of creation and the responsibility of stewardship. We must pass on all that is good to generations to come. 

Bishop Stephen Fumio Hamao (Japan)

Work for peace will be effective if all men become aware of their deep connection with nature, especially with all living beings. Man must not only dominate nature, but also seek harmony with it and admire in it the beauty, wisdom, and love of the Creator. Thus men will be freed of their frenzy for possessions and domination and will become artisans for peace. + L'Osservatore Romano, October 10, 1983 

Catholic Bishops of Appalachia (USA)

The sustainable and hopeful path sees Appalachia as a community of life, in which people and land are woven together as part of Earth's vibrant creativity, in turn revealing God's own creativity. In the vision of this path, the mountain forests are sacred cathedrals, the holy dwelling of abundant life-forms which all need each other, including us humans, with all revealing God's awesome majesty and tender embrace; empty mines are sacred wombs of Earth, opening pathways to underground rivers and to life-giving aquifers, in turn running beneath many states, and needing to be kept pure and clean as God's holy waters;   and the people are God's co-creators, called to form sustainable communities, and to develop sustainable livelihoods, all in sacred creative communion with land and forest and water and air, indeed with all Earth's holy creatures.   It is this alternative path, we believe, which John Paul II described as the true path of the future, and rightly called “a culture of life”. As we seek the path of sustainable community based on the oneness of land and people, it is helpful to remember that all creation is itself creative, for it reveals the creative word of God. It is not itself the incarnate word like Jesus, and it is not itself God. But all creation is nonetheless a revelation of God to us. Thus the Bible declares: The heavens proclaim your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones... Yours are the heavens, and yours is the earth: the world and its fullness you have founded... Justice and judgement are the foundation of your throne; kindness and truth go before you (Psalm 89: 6, 12, 15). As Chapter 1 of Genesis tells us, God “said” that the water and the land, and the plants and the animals, and finally we humans, should all appear, and so we did. Thus the water and the land, and the plants and the animals, and we humans too, are all expressions and revelations of God's word of creation. All creation, including ourselves, truly speaks the beauty and goodness of God. All creation truly shows the loving face of the Creator. Further, within this creation, we humans, both women and men, are a special revelation, for we are created in God's own image. To be created in God's own image means that we are called to care in love for our precious Earth, as if Earth were God's own garden, just as God cares in love for all creation. In seeking a culture of life rather than death, let us take a moment to reflect more on God's revelation in creation. Let us reflect on the story of Appalachia, of its mountains and forests in relation to our own human presence. + At Home in the Web of Life: A Pastoral Message on Sustainable Communities in Appalachia Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of This Land is Home to Me, from the Catholic Bishops of Appalachia, Promulgated December 15, 1995. © 2000 Catholic Committee of Appalachia


Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

What is to be said about ecological destruction? The unbridled search for quick industrial gain is devastating natural resources which should be for the common good of all humanity. The many recent examples of environmental devastation make it impossible for government leaders to ignore their responsibility in safeguarding our common heritage. Corporations cannot be allowed to make the financial bottom line their excuse for overlooking the negative deficits they are creating with respect to land, water, subsoil, air and other resources that are essential to all humanity and for each person and community. To the participants of the Summit of the Americas we address the same challenge as conveyed in the recent message on the common good to the members of the Parliament of Canada: “Since current production and consumption are so highly concentrated among the wealthy, the present model of development not only excludes the majority of this and future generations, but is exploitative and destructive of many forms of life on earth. The principle of the common good must today be enlarged not only to accept the stewardship of the earth, but to include all forms of creation.”  + Permanent Council, April 4, 2001 Read more ->
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