Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Today we celebrate the fiftieth Earth Day. This is an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family. As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst…We must grow in awareness of caring for our common home…We are fashioned from the earth, and fruit of the earth sustains our life…Thus we live in this common home as one human family in biodiversity with God’s other creatures…we have no future if we destroy the very environment that sustains us…How can we restore a harmonious relationship with the earth and with the rest of humanity? A harmonious relationship…harmony is a work of the Holy Spirit…In today’s celebration of Earth Day, we are called to renew our sense of sacred respect for the earth, for it is not just our home but also God’s home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          — Pope Francis



Last month, the Holy Father commemorated the 5th Anniversary of his Encyclical Laudato Si and the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

As he commemorates these milestones, it is important to remember that the respect for the Created Environment is part of Catholic Social Doctrine.  “The ecological question must not be faced solely because of the frightening prospects that environmental destruction represents; rather it must above all become a strong motivation for an authentic solidarity of worldwide dimensions (No. 486). Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good, destined for all (No. 466).”

The comments and actions of Pope Francis have been part of the Fabric of the Papacy since Earth Day 1970…

Saint Pope Paul VI.  “Man is suddenly becoming aware that by an ill-considered exploitation of nature he 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 illness 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.” (Octogesima Adveniens, No. 21)

Saint Pope John Paul II. “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. Often, the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers, while economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples. In these cases, pollution or environmental destruction is the result of an unnatural and reductionist vision which at times leads to a genuine contempt for man.” (World Day of Peace 1990, No.7)

Pope Benedict XVI.  “In 1990 John Paul II had spoken of an ‘ecological crisis’ and, in highlighting its primarily ethical character, pointed to the ‘urgent moral need for a new solidarity.’ His appeal is all the more pressing today, in the face of signs of a growing crisis which it would be irresponsible not to take seriously. Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of ‘environmental refugees?’ Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources?” (World Day of Peace 2010, No. 4)

Pope Francis. The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity. As these gases build up in the atmosphere, they hamper the escape of heat produced by sunlight at the earth’s surface. The problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the heart of the worldwide energy system. Another determining factor has been an increase in changed uses of the soil, principally deforestation for agricultural purposes.” (Laudato Si, No 23)

US Conference of Bishops. “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. It is about protecting both ‘the human environment’ and the natural environment. It is about our human stewardship of God’s creation and our responsibility to those who come after us. In that spirit of praise and thanksgiving to God for the wonders of creation, we Catholic bishops call for a civil dialogue and prudent and constructive action to protect God’s precious gift of the earth’s atmosphere with a sense of genuine solidarity and justice for all God’s children.” (Global Climate Change A Plea for Dialogue Prudence and the Common Good 2001)

Respect for the Created Environment IS ESSENTIAL to the Human Dignityof everyone…in 1970…in 2015…and in 2020…

+May God Bless You and Keep You+