Popes and Bishops on Ecological Concerns



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Popes and Bishops on Ecological Concerns
Because of an ill considered exploitation of nature, human beings risk destroying it and become the victim of its degradation. Not only is the material environment becoming a permanent menace – pollution and refuse, new illnesses and absolute destructive capacity – but the human framework is no longer under humankind’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the whole human family. (Paul V1, Octogesima Adveniens, #21, 1970)
“…exploitation of the earth…often brings…a threat to man’s natural environment, alienate him in his relations with nature and remove him from nature. Man often seems to see no other meaning to his natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption. Yet, it was the Creator’s will that man should communicate with nature as an intelligent, noble ‘master’ and ‘guardian’ and not as a heedless ‘exploiter’ and ‘destroyer’ (John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, #15, 1979)
Among today’s positive signs we must also mention a greater realization of the limits of available resources and of the need to respect the integrity of cycles of nature and to take them into account when planning for development, rather than sacrificing them to certain demagogic ideas about the latter, Today this is called the ecological concern…” (Pope John Paul II, Social Concerns, #26, 1988)
The first consideration is the appropriateness of acquiring a growing awareness of the fact that one cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings. Whether living or inanimate - animals, plants, the natural elements - simply as one wishes, according to one’s own economic needs. On the contrary, one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the ‘cosmos’” (Pope John Paul II, Social Concerns, #34, 1988)

The second consideration is based on the realization-which is perhaps more urgent-that natural resources are limited; some are not, as it is said, renewable. Using them as if they were inexhaustible, with absolute dominion seriously endangers their availability not only for the present generation but all generations to come.” (Pope John Paul 11, Social Concerns, #34, 1988)

Thus one would hope that all…will become fully aware of the urgent need to…change the spiritual attitudes which define each individual’s relationship with self, with neighbor, with even the remotest human communities, and with nature itself.” (Pope John Paul 11, Social Concerns, #38, 1988)

““In our day, there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of due respect for nature, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #1, January 1, 1990)

When man turns his back on the Creator's plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of created order. If man is not at peace with God, then earth itself cannot be at peace…”(John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #5 )


We cannot interfere in one area of the ecosystem without paying due attention both to the consequences of such interdependence on other areas and to the well-being of future generations.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #6, January 1, 1990)
No peaceful society can afford to neglect either respect for life or the fact that there is an integrity to creation.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message ,#7, January 1, 1990)
The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of respect for life evident in many of the patterns of environmental pollution.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #7, January 1, 1990)
It is manifestly unjust that a privileged few should continue to accumulate excess goods, squandering available resources, while masses of people are living in conditions of misery at the very lowest level of subsistence.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #8, January 1, 1990)
Today, the dramatic threat of ecological breakdown is teaching us the extent to which greed and selfishness- both individual and collective- are contrary to the order of creation, an order which is characterized by mutual interdependence.”

(John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #8, January 1, 1990)


Not only should each state join with others in implementing International accepted standards but it should also make or facilitate necessary socio-economic adjustments within its own borders, giving special attention to the most vulnerable sectors of society.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #9, January 1, 1990)
The right to a safe environment is ever more insistently presented today as a right that must be included in an updated Charter of Human Rights.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #11, January 1, 1990)

Proper ecological balance will not be found without directly addressing the structural forms of poverty.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #11, January 1, 1990)


Modern society will find no solution to the ecological problem unless it takes a serious look at its life style…An education in ecological responsibility is urgent: responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth. (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #13, January 1, 1990)
Our very contract with nature has a deep restorative power; contemplation of its magnificence imparts peace and serenity.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #14, January 1, 1990)
Today the ecological crisis has assumed such proportions as to be the responsibility of everyone…Its various aspects demonstrate the need for concerted efforts aimed at establishing duties and obligations that belong to individuals, peoples, States, and the international community. (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #15, January 1, 1990)
When the ecological crisis is set within the broader context of the search for peace within society, we can understand better the importance of giving attention to what the earth and its atmosphere are telling us: namely, that there is an order to the universe that must be respected, and that the human person, endowed with the capability of choosing freely, has a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being of future generations. I wish to repeat that the ecological crisis is a moral issue.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #15, January 1, 1990)
Christian in particular realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the creator are an essential part of their faith.”…”Respect for life and the dignity of the human person extends also to the rest of creation which is called to join man in praising God.” (John Paul II, World Day of Peace Message, #15 & 16, January 1, 1990)
Pope John Paul II wrote that the state has the responsibility to provide “for the defense and preservation of the common good such as the natural and human environment, which cannot be safeguarded simply by market forces.” (Centissimus Anno, 1991)
This coming Friday, 1 September, the Church in Italy will celebrate the first 'Day for the Protection of Creation', but today the great gift of God is exposed to serious dangers and lifestyles which can degrade it. Environmental pollution is making particularly unsustainable the lives of the poor of the world. In dialogue with Christians of various confessions, we must pledge ourselves to take care of creation and to share its resources in solidarity.” (Pope Benedict XV1, Angelus: Sunday, August 27, 2006)
Common points must be found on which converge the commitments of each one to safeguard the habitat that the Creator has made available to the human being, in whom he has impressed his own image.” (Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to his Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch, on the Occasion of the Sixth Symposium on "Religion, Science and the Environment" Focusing on the Amazon River).

The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth's treasures no longer serve to build God's garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction.” (Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily during Inaugural Mass, April 2005)


"In all of this (destruction), the face of Christ that is etched in every part of creation becomes defaced and even obliterated”. (Philippines Bishops, What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land, January 1988)
The relationship which links God, human beings and all the community of the living together is emphasized in the covenant which God made with Noah after the flood, the rainbow which we still see in the sky is a constant reminder of this bond and challenge (Gen. 9:12). This covenant recognizes the very close bonds which bind living forms together in what are called eco-systems. The implications of this covenant for us today are clear. As people of the covenant we are called to protect endangered ecosystems…and to establish just human communities in our land. More and more we recognize that the commitment to work for justice and to preserve the integrity of creation are two inseparable dimensions of our Christian vocation to work for the coming Kingdom of God in our times.” (Philippines Bishops, What is Happening to Our Beautiful Land, January 1988)
The environmental crisis of our day constitutes an exceptional call to conversion. As individuals, as institutions, as a people, we need a change of heart to save the planet for our children and generations yet unborn. So vast are the problems, so intertwined with our economy and way of life, that nothing but a wholehearted and ever more profound turning to God the maker of heaven and earth will allow is to carry out our responsibilities as faithful stewards of God’s creation.” (Renewing the Earth, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, 1991)
People share the earth with other creatures. But humans, made in the image and likeness of God, are called in a special way to “cultivate and care for it (Gen. 2:15”…safeguarding creation requires us to live responsibly within it, rather than managing creation as though we are outside of it. The human family is charged with preserving the beauty, diversity, and integrity of nature as well as fostering its productivity.” (Renewing the Earth, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, 1991)
The web of life is one. Our mistreatment of the natural world diminishes our own dignity and sacredness, not only because we are destroying resources that future generations of humans need but because we are engaging in actions that contradict what it means to be human, Our tradition calls us to protect life and the dignity of the human person, and it is increasingly clear that this task cannot be separated from the care and defense of all creation. (Renewing the Earth, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, 1991)
The wonderful variety of the natural world is, therefore part of the divine plan, and as such invites our respect. Accordingly, it is appropriate that we treat other creatures and the natural world not just as a means to human fulfillment, but as God’s creatures, possessing an independent value, worthy of our respect and care. (Renewing the Earth, U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, 1991)

By preserving natural environments, by protecting endangered species, by laboring to make human environments compatible with local ecology, by employing appropriate technology, and by carefully evaluating technological innovations as we adopt them, we exhibit respect for creation and reverence for the Creator.” (Renewing the Earth, U.S. Bishops 1991)



"Our Christian way of life, as saints like Benedict, Hildegard, and Francis showed us, is a road to community with all creation." (Renewing the Earth, U.S. Bishops 1991)
At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family.” (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, U.S. Bishops, November 2001)

Because of the blessings God has bestowed on our nation and the power it possesses, the United States bears a special responsibility in its stewardship of God's creation to shape responses that serve the entire human family. As pastors, teachers, and citizens, we bishops seek to contribute to our national dialogue by examining the ethical implications of climate change. We offer some themes from catholic social teachings that could help to shape this dialogue, and we suggest some directions for the debate and public policy decisions that face us. We do so with great respect for the work of the scientists, diplomats, business and union representatives, developers of new technologies, environmental leaders, and policy makers who have been struggling with the difficult questions of climate change for many years.” (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, U.S. Bishops, November 2001)


True stewardship requires changes in human actions - both moral behavior and technical advancement. Our religious tradition has always urged restraint and moderation in the use of material goods, so we must not allow our desire to possess more material things to overtake our concern for the basic needs of people and the environment. Pope John Paul II has linked protecting the environment to "authentic human ecology," which can overcome "structures of sin" and which promotes both human dignity and respect for creation.” (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, U.S. Bishops, November 2001)
Changes in lifestyle based on traditional moral virtues can ease the way to a sustainable and equitable world economy in which sacrifice will no longer be an unpopular concept. For many of us, a life less focused on material gain many remind us that we are more than what we have. Rejecting the false promises of excessive or conspicuous consumption can even allow more time for family, friends, and civic responsibilities. A renewed sense of sacrifice and restraint could make an essential contribution to addressing global climate change.” (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, U.S. Bishops, November 2001)
As people of religious faith, we bishops believe that the atmosphere that supports life on earth is a God-given gift, one we must respect and protect. It unites us as one human family. If we harm the atmosphere, we dishonor our Creator and the gift of creation. The value of our faith calls us to humility, sacrifice, and a respect for life and the natural gifts God has provided.” (Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, U.S. Bishops, November 2001)


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