Care of Creation and Commitment to Justice
It is hard to imagine an issue that divides our communities so sharply as the call to care for our environment. The destruction of creation that has already seen dramatic changes to climate, species, air and soil quality and rising oceans. For believers care of the earth can never be seen as new, trendy or left-wing. The Bible is filled with images, calls and challenges to live in harmony with the created order. Rain, snow, seeds, sowers, fertile soil, and a labouring creation giving birth to the fruits of the Spirit, are just some of the rich grounds upon which we reflect on the importance of our earth’s ecology.
Pope Francis has said the care of our common home is THE right to life issue. By doing so he is not diminishing other right to life issues but making the unexceptionable point that if we don’t have a healthy planet to live upon then none of us are going to be able to live. In his letter on the environment, Laudato Si, he gave voice to our obligations not to murder creation, and that we have grave moral obligations to care for creation and to treat it as the gift it is. “… If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part, Christians in their turn realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.” (#64)
Rather than see his teaching as exotic we can see that our care for the earth is one way we can all refrain from killing creation and so committing murder on peoples and places unknown and unseen, so that the earth is developed in such a way that there will be a productive earth for future generations to inherit.
This care for the environment is an important part of our Christian commitment for justice, part of the seamless garment in our ethic of life. If this means we must limit our consumption, change our priorities in regard to energy and trade and show the third world the way in developing eco-friendly industries, then all the better for us.
Most of us know that we cannot keep going as we are, with ever increasing unsustainable demands on our planet. There is no point any of us crying over the demise of our environment in the future, if we are doing nothing to help it now. Every small thing we do - from being conscious of the issues, to recycling and using our cars less - is not unimportant. Some of us are in positions to do a lot more than these things as well and we should take our Christian responsibilities in this regard very seriously.
We cannot be irresponsible about the world’s finite resources in the hope that we will find solutions in the future. Avarice is not one of the seven deadly sins for nothing. If not for the dignity of and right to life, then for self-interest for the future of our family and friends we must be stewards not wreckers of all God’s good gifts.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is an author and film critic
Season of Creation
Each year during the month of September, the Christian family unites to celebrate the Season of Creation, a worldwide celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. This year’s theme Jubilee for the Earth presents an invitation to consider the integral relationship between rest for the earth and ecological, social, and political ways of living.
Jesuit Missions has organised a number of ways that you can get involved and help to create a sustainable legacy for future generations. This includes reflections from around the world, including Fr James Martin SJ and Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, as well as a webinar with Amazon activist, Leah Casimero.
Check out the Season of Creation website here