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The Catholic Church as Steward of Creation


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The Catholic Church as Steward of Creation

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The Catholic Church as Steward of Creation

  1. 1. Winter A • 2010-2011 The Catholic Church as Steward of Creation Scriptural Foundation of future generations. For the World Day of Peace in The Catholic Church’s commission to care for the earth 2010, Pope Benedict XVI chose the theme: “If you want is rooted in the book of Genesis where God creates the to cultivate peace, protect creation.” He went on to say: world and finds favor with it: “Environmental pollution is making particularly “God looked at everything he had made unsustainable the lives of the poor of the world. and found it very good” (Genesis 1:31). We must pledge ourselves to take care of creation and to share its resources in solidarity.” The first humans were also appointed as stewards of creation by the divine Maker: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has strived to translate creation spirituality into “The Lord God then took the man pastoral action. In 1993, the bishops formed an initiative and settled him in the Garden of Eden, they called the “Environmental Justice Program: Caring to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). for God’s Creation.” The creation-centered faith of God’s people is reflected The environment link on the USCCB Website (www. in the words of the psalmist who views the world as a offers a wealth metaphor for humanity’s relationship with God: of resources supporting environmental education, civic responsibility, and legislative advocacy. It includes major “As a deer longs for flowing streams, statements on the environment intended “to promote a so my soul longs for you, O God” (Psalm 42:1); vision of a just and sustainable world community.” “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people” (Psalm 125:2). Catholic Institutions Sound the Call Catholic institutions have exhibited a renewed sense of Jesus also used creation imagery to teach the disciples environmental responsibility to help create a just and about faith and discipleship: sustainable future. Catholic Charities has a link about climate change on their Website that calls caring for the “Consider the lilies, how they grow” (Luke 12:27); earth “a requirement of our faith” and lists practical ways “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5). to “Go Green” in order to reduce poverty ( Catholic Spirituality and Teaching Catholic Relief Services is working around the world Christian mystics, such as Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of to promote food security, water conservation, and Bingen, and Julian of Norwich, did not equate the divine responsible agriculture. Catholic hospitals have won with nature, but they recognized the presence and action awards for their efforts to shape policies and procedures of God in creation. The world for them was a sacrament in accord with environmental protection. of God, as Meister Eckhart wrote: Care for Creation is listed under the concerns of the “Every creature is a word of God Office of Peace and Justice in Chicago. In Florida, and is a book about God.” dioceses have encouraged community efforts to conserve limited water supplies. Numerous local churches sponsor Such poetic writings formed the foundation for a vibrant initiatives through parish committees. school of thought known as Creation Theology, a spiritu- ality that both informs and inspires the Church’s mission Meanwhile, religious orders have also been leading the as steward of the environment. way. The Franciscans have brought environmental issues before the United Nations. The Sisters of Loretto have Catholic teaching has been vocal in linking the environ- developed a “Loretto Land Ethic” and have built a retreat mental crisis to the plight of the poor and the prospects cabin on their Motherhouse property entirely out of SR-00-WA-10-C-The Catholic Church as Steward of Creation©2010 by Morehouse Education Resources • All rights reserved • • 1-800-242-1918
  2. 2. Winter A • 2010-2011 The Catholic Church as Steward of Creation natural materials recycled from the land (www.lorettocom- A Cooperative Mission In her mission of stewardship, the Church works in Catholic education has been a major force in sowing concert with the many great local and international seeds of consciousness raising and community action. organizations that strive to create a sustainable world for Both science and theology curriculums address environ- all and to preserve with reverence the sacramental beauty mental issues while liturgical celebrations incorporate of God’s creation. It is the vision of the Church that the ecological symbols and themes. Practical initiatives spirit of God calls, enlightens, and empowers us to do include placing recycling bins in classrooms, copy rooms, this vital work. It was in the natural forces of wind and and cafeterias. Student councils and clubs often take fire that the presence of the Spirit was first manifested the lead in providing peer education and spearheading on Pentecost Sunday. The Church commits herself to involvement. prayerful environmental action so that the Spirit might come again with power: “When you send forth your spirit they are created; and you renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30). “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 2©2010 by Morehouse Education Resources • All rights reserved • • 1-800-242-1918