Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center
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Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on Ecology (Page 4)
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A Revival of the Faith The Western world has had in the last 50 years great successes - economic successes, technical successes; yet religion - Christian faith - is in a certain sense in crisis. This is clear because there is the impression that we do not need God, we can do all on our own, that we do not need God to be happy, we do not need God to create a better world, that God is not necessary, we can do all by ourselves... In this historical moment, we begin to see that we do need God. We can do so many things, but we cannot create our climate. We thought we could do it, but we cannot do it. We need the gift of the Earth, the gift of water, we need the Creator. The Creator reappears in his Creation. And so we also come to understand that we cannot be really happy, cannot be really promoting justice for all the world, without a criterion at work in our own ideas, without a God who is just, and gives us the light, and gives us life. So, I think there will be in a certain sense in this "Western world" a crisis of our faith, but we will always also have a revival of the faith, because Christian faith is simply true, and the truth will always be present in the human world, and God will always be truth. In this sense, I am in the end optimistic... I do not presume to enter into the technical questions [of climate change] that politicians and specialists must resolve, but to give the essential impetus to see the responsibilities, to be capable of responding to this great challenge: To rediscover in Creation the face of the Creator, to rediscover our responsibility before the Creator for his Creation, which he has entrusted to us, to form the ethical capacity for a lifestyle that must be assumed if we wish to address the problems of this situation and if we really want to arrive at positive solutions.   Hence, to awaken consciences and see the great context of this problem, in which later are placed the detailed answers that it is not for us to give, but for politics and specialists. + Benedict XVI's comments to journalists aboard the papal plane en route to Sydney, Australia, July 14, 2008 Animals, too, are God’s Creatures We can see that [the animals] are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God's creatures, and even if they do not have the same direct relation to God that man has, they are still creatures of his will, creatures we must respect as companions in creation and as important elements in the creation... Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.  + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002), 78-79 Creation and Redemption Thanks very much, dear Professor Golser. Certainly you could respond much better than me to these questions, but I’ll try to say something anyway. You’ve touched the theme of the relationship between Creation and Redemption, and I think that the indissolvable bond between them should receive new emphasis. In recent decades, the doctrine of Creation almost disappeared in theology, it was almost imperceptible. Now we can see the damages that resulted. The Redeemer is the Creator, and if we don’t proclaim God in all his total greatness – as Creator and Redeemer – we subtract value also from the Redemption. In fact, if God has nothing to say about Creation, is he is relegated simply into an ambit of history, how can all of our life truly be understood? How could he truly bring salvation for humanity in its entirety and for the world in its totality? That’s why for me, renewal of the doctrine of Creation, and a new understanding of the indissolvability of the bond between Creation and Redemption, takes on such great importance. We have to recognize anew: He is the Creator Spiritus, the Reason from whom in the beginning everything is born, and of which our reason is nothing but a scintilla. It is him, the Creator himself, who entered into history and can still enter into history and act in it, because He is the God of everything together and not just of one part. If we recognize this, obviously what follows is that the Redemption, what it means to be Christian, and simply the Christian faith in itself, always signify responsibility with regard to Creation. Twenty or thirty years ago Christians were accused – I don’t know if this accusation is still sustained – of being the true parties responsible for the destruction of Creation, because the term contained in Genesis – ‘subjugate the earth’ – has produced an arrogance with regard to creation of which we are today experiencing the consequences. I think that we must newly learn to see this accusation in all its falsity: to the extent that the earth was considered God’s creation, the duty of “subjecting” it was never understood as an order to make it a slave, but rather as a duty of being a custodian of creation and developing its gifts; of collaborating ourselves in an active way in God’s work, in the evolution that God placed in the world, so that the gifts of creation are prized and not trampled upon or destroyed. If we observe what was born around monasteries, how in those places little paradises were born and continue to be born, oases of creation, it’s obvious that all this isn’t simply words. Where the Word of the Creator was understood in the correct manner, where there was life with the Creator-Redeemer, in those places there was a commitment to protection creation and not to destroy it. Chapter 8 of the Letter to the Romans is relevant here, where it’s said that creation suffers and groans for the state of submission in which it finds itself, and awaits the revelation of the children of God: it will feel itself liberated when those creatures come who are children of God and who treat it from God’s point of view. I believe that this is precisely the reality we see today: Creation is groaning – we can sense it, we can almost hear it – and it is waiting for human beings who see it through God’s eyes. The brutal consumption of creation begins where God is missing, where matter has become simply matter for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate measure, where everything is simply our property and we consume it only for ourselves. The waste of creation begins where we no longer recognize any claim beyond ourselves, seeing only ourselves; it begins where there is no longer any dimension of life beyond death, where in this life we have to grab everything and take hold of life with the maximum intensity possible, where we have to possess everything it’s possible to possess. I believe, therefore, that true and effective measures against the waste and destruction of creation can only be realized and developed, understood and lived, when creation is considered from the point of view of God; when life is considered on the basis of God and has its major dimensions in responsibility before God; life that one day will be given by God in its fullness and never taken away. Giving life, we receive it. Thus, I believe, we must attempt with all the means we have to present the faith in public, especially where there’s already a sensibility for it. I think the sensation many people have today that the world may be slipping away – because we ourselves are driving it away – and the sense of being oppressed by the problems of creation gives us a fitting occasion in which our faith can speak publicly and can present itself as a positive proposition. In fact, it’s not just a question of finding techniques that can prevent environmental harms, even if it’s important to find alternative sources of energy and so on. But all this won’t be enough if we ourselves don’t find a new style of life, a discipline which is made up in part of renunciations: a discipline of recognition of others, to whom creation belongs just as much as those of us who can make use of it more easily; a discipline of responsibility to the future for others and for ourselves. It’s a question of responsibility before He who is our Judge, and as Judge our Redeemer, but nonetheless our Judge. + Q&A with priests in northern Italy, Meeting of the Holy Father Benedict XVI with the Clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, August 6, 2008 Nature’s Inherent Possibilities Nature resists unbridled consumption, and this is why the state of the environment has prompted new reflections on the direction that nature itself indicates. The lordship over nature of which the biblical creation narrative speaks does not mean a violent exploitation of nature, but rather an understanding of nature's inherent possibilities. This suggests a caution in the way in which we serve nature and nature serves us. + Benedict XVI, Values in a Time, 159 Man is a Kind of Bridge   Man is indeed a kind of bridge. He is the point at which the material world and the spiritual world meet and mingle and thus occupies a special place in the matrix of the created order... That gives him a quite special function: that is to say, sharing the responsibility for the unity of creation, incarnating spirit in himself and, conversely, lifting material being up to God - and thereby, all in all, making a contribution to the great symphony of creation.   + Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World, 89 Letter To Professor Mary Ann Glennon, President Of The Pontifical Academy Of Social Science April 28, 2007 The Church’s conviction of the inseparability of justice and charity is ultimately born of her experience of the revelation of God’s infinite justice and mercy in Jesus Christ, and it finds expression in her insistence that man himself and his irreducible dignity must be at the center of political and social life. Her teaching, which is addressed not only to believers but to all people of good will, thus appeals to right reason and a sound understanding of human nature in proposing principles capable of guiding individuals and communities in the pursuit of a social order marked by justice, freedom, fraternal solidarity and peace. At the heart of that teaching, as you well know, is the principle of the universal destination of all the goods of creation. According to this fundamental principle, everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfillment of the human family and all its members. From this integrally human perspective we can understand more fully the essential role which charity plays in the pursuit of justice. My predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was convinced that justice alone is insufficient to establish truly humane and fraternal relations within society. "In every sphere of interpersonal relationships," he maintained, "justice must, so to speak, be ‘corrected’ to a considerable extent by that love which, as Saint Paul proclaims, ‘is patient and kind’ or, in other words, possesses the characteristics of that merciful love which is so much of the essence of the Gospel and Christianity" (Dives in Misericordia, 14). Charity, in a word, not only enables justice to become more inventive and to meet new challenges; it also inspires and purifies humanity’s efforts to achieve authentic justice and thus the building of a society worthy of man. At a time when "concern for our neighbor transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world" (Deus Caritas Est, 30), the intrinsic relationship between charity and justice needs to be more clearly understood and emphasized. In expressing my confidence that your discussions in these days will prove fruitful in this regard, I would like briefly to direct your attention to three specific challenges facing our world, challenges which I believe can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity. The first concerns the environment and sustainable development. The international community recognizes that the world’s resources are limited and that it is the duty of all peoples to implement policies to protect the environment in order to prevent the destruction of that natural capital whose fruits are necessary for the well-being of humanity. To meet this challenge, what is required is an interdisciplinary approach such as you have employed. Also needed is a capacity to assess and forecast, to monitor the dynamics of environmental change and sustainable growth, and to draw up and apply solutions at an international level. Particular attention must be paid to the fact that the poorest countries are likely to pay the heaviest price for ecological deterioration. In my Message for the 2007 World Day of Peace, I pointed out that "the destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth’s resources … are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development. Indeed, if development were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man’s destructive capacities" (No. 9). In meeting the challenges of environmental protection and sustainable development, we are called to promote and "safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic ‘human ecology’" (Centesimus Annus, 38). This in turn calls for a responsible relationship not only with creation but also with our neighbors, near and far, in space and time, and with the Creator. This brings us to a second challenge which involves our conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one other. If human beings are not seen as persons, male and female, created in God’s image (cf. Gen 1:26) and endowed with an inviolable dignity, it will be very difficult to achieve full justice in the world. Despite the recognition of the rights of the person in international declarations and legal instruments, much progress needs to be made in bringing this recognition to bear upon such global problems as the growing gap between rich and poor countries; the unequal distribution and allocation of natural resources and of the wealth produced by human activity; the tragedy of hunger, thirst and poverty on a planet where there is an abundance of food, water and prosperity; the human suffering of refugees and displaced people; the continuing hostilities in many parts of the world; the lack of sufficient legal protection for the unborn; the exploitation of children; the international traffic in human beings, arms and drugs; and numerous other grave injustices. A third challenge relates to the values of the spirit. Pressed by economic worries, we tend to forget that, unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which are properly human expand and multiply when communicated: unlike divisible goods, spiritual goods such as knowledge and education are indivisible, and the more one shares them, the more they are possessed. Globalization has increased the interdependence of peoples, with their different traditions, religions and systems of education. This means that the peoples of the world, for all their differences, are constantly learning about one another and coming into much greater contact. All the more important, then, is the need for a dialogue which can help people to understand their own traditions vis-à-vis those of others, to develop greater self-awareness in the face of challenges to their identity, and thus to promote understanding and the acknowledgement of true human values within an intercultural perspective. To meet these challenges, a just equality of opportunity, especially in the field of education and the transmission of knowledge, is urgently needed. Regrettably, education, especially at the primary level, remains dramatically insufficient in many parts of the world. To meet these challenges, only love for neighbor can inspire within us justice at the service of life and the promotion of human dignity. Only love within the family, founded on a man and a woman, who are created in the image of God, can assure that inter-generational solidarity which transmits love and justice to future generations. Only charity can encourage us to place the human person once more at the centre of life in society and at the centre of a globalized world governed by justice. Commit to Caring for Creation Environmental degradation makes the life of the poor intolerable. In dialogue with Christians of different denominations, we need to commit ourselves to caring for creation, without squandering its resources, but instead sharing in them in a collaborative way. + Remarks after Angelus address, August 27, 2006 Eucharistic Spirituality Finally, to develop a profound eucharistic spirituality that is also capable of significantly affecting the fabric of society, the Christian people, in 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.(249) The Eucharist itself powerfully illuminates human history and the whole cosmos. In this sacramental perspective we learn, day by day, that every ecclesial event is a kind of sign by which God makes himself known and challenges us. The eucharistic form of life can thus help foster a real change in the way we approach history and the world. The liturgy itself teaches us this, when, during the presentation of the gifts, the priest raises to God a prayer of blessing and petition over the bread and wine, "fruit of the earth," "fruit of the vine" and "work of human hands." With these words, the rite not only includes in our offering to God all human efforts and activity, but also leads us to see the world as God's creation, which brings forth everything we need for our sustenance. The world is not something indifferent, raw material to be utilized simply as we see fit. Rather, it is part of God's good plan, in which all of us are called to be sons and daughters in the one Son of God, Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 1:4-12). The justified concern about threats to the environment present in so many parts of the world is reinforced by Christian hope, which commits us to working responsibly for the protection of creation. (250) The relationship between the Eucharist and the cosmos helps us to see the unity of God's plan and to grasp the profound relationship between creation and the "new creation" inaugurated in the resurrection of Christ, the new Adam. Even now we take part in that new creation by virtue of our Baptism (cf. Col 2:12ff.). Our Christian life, nourished by the Eucharist, gives us a glimpse of that new world – new heavens and a new earth – where the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven, from God, "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2).   + Sacramentum Caritatis [The Sacrament of Charity], no. 92 The Book of Nature Friar Francis, faithful to Sacred Scripture, invites us to recognize nature as a stupendous book, that speaks to us of God, of his beauty and of his goodness. + Address to Students, November 28, 2011 Distribution of Resources [T]he future of the human family needs a new impetus if it is to overcome the current fragile and uncertain situation. Although we are living in a global dimension there are evident signs of the deep division between those who lack daily sustenance and those who have huge resources at their disposal, who frequently do not use them for nutritional purposes or even destroy reserves. + Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 9, 2012 Listen to the Language of Nature I would say that the emergence of the ecological movement in German politics since the 1970s, while it has not exactly flung open the windows, nevertheless was and continues to be a cry for fresh air which must not be ignored or pushed aside, just because too much of it is seen to be irrational. Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives. In saying this, I am clearly not promoting any particular political party — nothing could be further from my mind. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. Allow me to dwell a little longer on this point. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly. + Address to Reichstag, September 22, 2011 Followers of Christ A second key area where you are called to make a contribution is in showing concern for the environment. This is not only because this country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change. You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ! + Urbi et Orbi, Easter 2009 Farming as the Focus [F]arming … must not be seen as a secondary activity but as the focus of every strategy of growth and integral development. This is even more important if we take into account that the availability of food is increasingly conditioned by the fluctuation of prices and sudden climate changes. + World Day of Food Message, October 17, 2011 A Grave Concern for the Entire Human Family Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family … With increasing clarity scientific research demonstrates that the impact of human actions in any one place or region can have worldwide effects. The consequences of disregard for the environment cannot be limited to an immediate area or populus because they always harm human coexistence, and thus betray human dignity and violate the rights of citizens who desire to live in a safe environment. + Letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, September 1, 2007 © Copyright 2005 - Libreria Editrice Vatican
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