The rest of Creation cries out against the evil and perversity of the human species. Other creatures fulfil the commandments of God; they honour his laws. And other creatures do not grumble and complain at those laws. But human beings rebel against those laws, defying them in word and action. And in doing so they inflict terrible cruelty on the rest of God's creation.
-- Blessed Hildegard von Bingen
I have wondered often why many seemingly devout and pious Catholics and Orthodox seem oblivious to the need to change our lives in order to be good stewards of God's Creation. I visit parishes both Traditional, Eastern Rite and modern (Novus Ordo rite) and I have yet to see a program of recycling, green energy usage or support of sustainable agriculture in any of them, much less a series of lectures, homilies or classes on the subject.
Here, gleaned from sources both East and West (since I am an Eastern Rite Catholic who is married to a Greek Orthodox, I have a place in both worlds) are the top ten reasons why a Catholic community should take climate change, earth stewardship and green issues seriously enough to modify our lives,
1.) In 1997, Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world's 250 million Orthodox Christians, declared that the wanton destruction of nature was a sin.
2.) Recently, Bartholomew's chief theologian, Metropolitan John of Pergamon, took things a step further, declaring that humans must not simply act as stewards of the environment, but as "priests of creation," embracing nature rather than simply managing it "The human being is almost by its very constitution the link between creation and God," he explained. "We are part of nature."
3.) Pope Benedict XVI has stated: "Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family. No nation or business sector can ignore the ethical implications present in all economic and social development. 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 OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE ON THE OCCASION OF THE SEVENTH SYMPOSIUMOF THE RELIGION, SCIENCE AND THE ENVIRONMENT MOVEMENT
4.) The Vatican is installing 1,000 solar panels which will adorn the football-sized roof of the Paul VI audience hall, one of the top energy guzzlers in the sovereign city state. The solar system will be able to provide all the heating, cooling, and lighting needs of the entire building year-round, and any extra electricity generated will be fed back into the Vatican’s grid. If it's good enough for Il Papa, it's good enough for me.
5.) At a Youth Rally last year, Pope Benedict said: "New generations will be entrusted with the future of the planet, which bears clear signs of a type of development that has not always protected nature's delicate equilibriums.” He continued: "Courageous choices that can re-create a strong alliance between man and earth must be made before it is too late."
6.) Who's going to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world? Some hippie Scandinavian nation, right? Or Brazil?
Nope. It's the Vatican, and it's teaming up with a Hungarian carbon offset company to plant the Vatican Climate Forest.
7.) John Paul II: "The law written by God in nature and capable of being read by reason leads to respect for the Creator's plan, a plan which is meant for the benefit of mankind. This law establishes a certain inner order which man discovers and which he must preserve. Any activity in conflict with this order inevitably does damage to man himself." - Liturgy of the Word celebrated in Zamosc, Poland on June 12, 1999
8.) "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men."
-St. Francis of Assisi
9.) "JESUS DEIGNED TO teach me this mystery. He set before me the book of nature; I understood how all the flowers He has created are beautiful, how the splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the Lily do not take away the perfume of the little violet or the delightful simplicity of the daisy." - St. Therese of Lisieux
10.) St. Augustine: "SOME PEOPLE, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Note it. Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead He set before your eyes the things He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?
QUESTION THE BEAUTY of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air distending and diffusing itself, question the beauty of the sky ... question all these realities. All respond: "See, we are beautiful." Their beauty is a profession. These beauties are subject to change. Who made them if not the Beautiful One who is not subject to change?
THE EXPLANATION, then, of the goodness of creation is the goodness of God. It puts an end to all controversies concerning the origin of the world.... The heretics mention, for example, fire, cold, wild beasts and things like that, without considering how wonderful such things are in themselves and in their proper place, and how beautifully they fit into the total pattern of the universe, making their particular contributions to the commonweal of cosmic beauty."
--The City of God 11.22
Some final thoughts ~
from The Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431)
FOR ALTHOUGH VISIBLE and a child in swaddling clothes, and even in the bosom of His Virgin Mother, He filled all creation as God.
And one more list, courtesy of Catholic Conservation Center.
Top 10 Reasons to Care for Creation!
God is the Creator of the Universe and maintains its existence through an ongoing creative will.
God has blessed and called "very good" all that is created.
God's plan for Creation is one of harmony and order. Creation forms a whole, a cosmos.
God loves the community of life.
God's creatures share a common home.
God's presence is discernible in all Creation.
God intends the Earth's goods to be equitably shared.
Within Creation, the human person enjoys a consummate dignity. Inherent to this dignity is that of exercising a wise and just stewardship over the rest of Creation.
Sin brought division into the entire world, but not only within and between human persons. The consequences of sin also affect the Earth.
In a mysterious way, Christ's redemptive mission extends to all of Creation.
To read more, visit The Catholic Conservation Center
Pope Paul VI - A Hospitable Earth for Future Generations
Message to the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment
June 1, 1972
The Catechism on environmental issues (click here).
The Four Cardinal Virtues
Green In The Bible
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven.