“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson
The environment is one thing that is shared between all who have set foot on Earth. The Earth’s significance transcends the boundaries of religion, race, gender & even time itself. What we do with this planet today will affect the people of tomorrow; therefore, it is everyone’s responsibility to look after the environment to their best ability.
Because of the environment’s inclusive nature, the Catholic Church as well as the people of the secular world share the same view towards the responsibility of caring for the environment. These two groups share the same goal, but have different reasons as to why they believe that Earth should be looked after.
From a secular point of view, the environment should be maintained & looked after because of numerous ethical and scientific reasons. Sustainability is popular because people desire a world where the air is clean and without smog; where the planet is beautiful & landfill and pollution free; and where animals are thriving and surviving. What society wants is a world where their children can live and appreciate the beauty of nature.
The Catholic Church, among other ethical issues, shares this perspective of the environment & the responsibility associated with it. However the Catholic Church has some additional reasoning behind the care of the environment, which distinguishes their perspective from others.
“We must respect the integrity of all Creation” – Catechism of the Catholic Church #2415
Base upon the Genesis account, Catholics believe that the Universe, and everything in it was created by God, with the intention for good. God being the Creator, created humanity along with the environment, and had given humanity dominion over the earth’s resources (Gen. 1:28). God had gave us this dominion so that we may care for His Creation; to be stewards of this beautiful gift.
Because of this belief of being assigned the role of “Steward of Creation”, it is considered by Catholics that polluting the environment is a dishonour towards God, since it goes against God’s command to look after Creation.
Also, the Catholic Church believes that the Earth should be looked after because of Catholic Social Teaching. The Catholic Church Social Teaching sums up the teaching of the Church on issues of justice between groups in society. Teaching draws on sources of insight used in Catholic ethics; such as Scripture, reason, tradition and experience. Its primary principle is dignity of the human person, which surrounds other principles such as common good, participation and subsidiarity.
The Catholic Church would support the care of the environment since it is concurrent with the Catholic Social Teaching principles. The most relevant principle is the tenth, which is “Care of Creation”. This principle demands that the earth is to be looked after since the Earth is God’s gift & all species have a rightful place in it. Another is the principle of common good . Since the goods of creation are intended for the common good of all living things, it would be considered right to look after Creation, so all may enjoy it. Lastly, the principle of participation closely relates to sustainability. Sustainability is all about preserving and using environmental resources to avoid depleting them. By living sustainably, the future generations will be able to participate in delighting in Creation.
I believe that the Earth should be looked after not only since God has given humanity the duty to look after His Creation, but for reasons such as the preservation of plant and animal life; the prevention of smog and health issues, and the ability to provide the future generations with environmental resources.
A video about the Earth Hour Movement & Spider Man being the first superhero ambassador for the world initiative: Here
What the Bible says about the Environment: Here