What Does the Catholic Church Say about the Environment?

Here are a few quotes from our popes and bishops:

“Today the ecological crisis has assumed such proportions as to be the responsibility of everyone…The…’greenhouse effect’ has now reached crisis proportions…”  –Pope John Paul II, “Peace With All Creation,” (1990) www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/messages/peace/documents/hf_jp-ii_mes_19891208_xxiii-world-day-for-peace_en.html

“If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation… Man’s inhumanity to man has given rise to numerous threats to peace… Yet no less troubling are the threats arising from the neglect – if not    downright misuse – of the earth and the natural goods that God has given us…Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change… attention also needs to be paid to the world-wide problem of water and to the global water cycle system, which is of prime importance for life on earth and whose stability could be seriously jeopardized by climate change” — Pope Benedict XVI, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation” (2010), www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20091208_xliii-world-day-peace_en.html

“By an ill-considered exploitation of nature (man) risks destroying it and becoming in his turn the victim of this 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 man’s control, thus creating an environment for tomorrow which may well be intolerable. This is a wide-ranging social problem which concerns the entire human family.” — Pope Leo XIII, “Rerum Norvarum” (1971) http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html

“At its core the environmental crisis is a moral challenge.  It calls us to examine how we use and share the goods of the earth, what we pass n to future generations, and how we live in harmony with God’s creation.”  –U.S. Bishops, “Renewing the Earth” (1991) http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/ejp/bishopsstatement.shtml

“Our Creator has given us the gift of  creation:  the air we breathe, the water that sustains life,  the fruits of the land that nourish us, and the entire web of life without which human life cannot flourish.  All of this God created and found ‘very good.’  We believe our response to global climate change should be a sign of our respect for God’s creation” — U.S. Bishops, “Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good” (2001). www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/globalclimate.shtml

“We believe our response to global climate change should be a sign of our respect for God’s creation”  –U.S. Bishops, “Global Climate Change” (2001) www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/globalclimate.shtml

“Even though energy resources literally fuel our economy…we need to ask about ways we can conserve energy, prevent pollution, and live more simply.” –U.S. Bishops, “Global Climate Change” (2001) www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/globalclimate.shtml  

“…our response to the challenge of climate change must be rooted in the virtue of prudence….[M]ost experts agree that something significant is happening to the atmosphere. Human behavior and activity are…contributing to a warming of the earth’s climate… Consequently, it seems prudent…to take steps now to mitigate possible negative effects in the future.” — U.S. Bishops, “Global Climate Change” (2001) www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/globalclimate.shtml

“We must therefore encourage and support the ‘ecological conversion’ which in recent decades has   made humanity more sensitive to the catastrophe to which it has been heading.  Man is no longer the    Creator’s ‘steward’, but an autonomous despot, who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss.”   — Pope John Paul II, “God Made Man The Steward of Creation” (2001) www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud20010117en.html

“Today the great gift of God’s Creation 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 … we must pledge ourselves to take care of creation and to share its resources in solidarity.” — Pope Benedict XVI (2009) http://www.catholicsandclimatechange.org/coalition_activities/covenant.html

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4 Responses to “What Does the Catholic Church Say about the Environment?”

  1. annieelf Says:

    These particular word deeply moved me – “If you want to cultivate peace – cultivate creation”.

    Whether it’s opposition to abortion or teaching hungry people to cultivate their own food using methods that fit within their society, these are words to live by.

    I would love to see these words on a bumper sticker, too.

  2. lynnvinc Says:

    That’s really a beautiful insight, Annie.

    I often tell people who think environmentalism is pro-abortion, “Who are we saving the earth for, if not for the children?” When the end comes to justify the means, and makes it okay to kill people (including the unborn), it also makes it perfectly okay to destroy the earth. As Mr. Spock would say, it doesn’t compute, killing children to save children.

    I think earth-destruction at its roots comes from this “ends justify the means” mentality, the same mentality that leads to abortion.

  3. Catholic Ecological Awareness, Spirituality & Action « Real Catholic Environmentalism Says:

    […] (in addition to what the popes and bishops have stated regarding the environment – see https://catholicecology.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/what-doest-the-catholic-church-say-about-the-environ… […]

  4. Felix Mworeh Says:

    Environment is the mother of humanity, when destroyed we are left without care.

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