Monday, September 21, 2009

"Green Pope" Following Tradition Not Fad

Pope Benedict is very open to the concerns facing the environment. His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, had said that ecology was not opposed to theology. The Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Bartholomew I, has also advocated for the environment. None of these leaders is following fads; nor are they limited to scientific concerns, real as they are. Instead, they are rooted in the Christian theological tradition, which appreciates all created things as gifts of the Creator.

We can expect Pope Benedict to continue to include the care creation in his remarks. "Indeed, the pronouncements on the protection of the environment, on the safeguarding of creation, are more frequent and -- we can say -- almost continuous," commented Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See's press office.

In that same commentary Father Lombardi mentioned Benedict's most recent encyclical, Caritas in veritate. Its Chapter Four is entitled: "The Development of Peoples; Rights and Duties; The Environment." The pope relates these three. At paragraph 48 of his fourth chapter, the pope introduces his remarks concerning the environment, situating them in the Christian theological tradition:
48. Today the subject of development is also closely related to the duties arising from our relationship to the natural environment. The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole. When nature, including the human being, is viewed as the result of mere chance or evolutionary determinism, our sense of responsibility wanes. In nature, the believer recognizes the wonderful result of God's creative activity, which we may use responsibly to satisfy our legitimate needs, material or otherwise, while respecting the intrinsic balance of creation. If this vision is lost, we end up either considering nature an untouchable taboo or, on the contrary, abusing it. Neither attitude is consonant with the Christian vision of nature as the fruit of God's creation.

[Hear and watch Fr. E. J. Tyler read both paragraphs 48 and 49.]
Given this "Christian vision of nature," Pope Benedict's "pronouncements on the protection of the environment, on the safeguarding of creation," will continue with frequency. Christian theology and catechesis, of course, grows out of Christian worship of lavishly generous and constantly creating Triune God.
Wiki-image of Clear green globe is used according to the GNU Lesser General Public License.

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