Friday, October 23, 2009

Therefore the land mourns

"Therefore the land mourns and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and even the fish of the sea are taken away" (Hos 4:3).

On December 8, 1989, Pope John Paul II delivered a message for the celebration of World Peace Day, January 1, 1990. The message was titled, "The Ecological Crisis, A Common Responsibility." Pope John started by saying, "In our day there is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts and continued injustices among peoples and nations, but also by a LACK OF DUE RESPECT FOR NATURE, by the plundering of natural resources and by a progressive decline in the quality of life. The sense of precariousness and insecurity that such a situation engenders is a seedbed for collective selfishness, disregard for others and dishonesty."

In my view, the Pope's message was the most pointed, insightful, and forceful statement on man and his place in nature ever delivered by a leader of a major religious movement at any time anywhere in the world. It was a remarkable lesson in just what it means to be a Christian who believes that, "the Father has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery ... which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite ALL THINGS in him, all things in heaven and things on earth (Eph. 1:9-10)."

The Pope used various biblical considerations to help the followers of Christ better understand the relationship between human activity and the whole of God's creation. But he also stated that, "The profound sense that the earth is suffering is also shared by those who do not profess our faith in God. Indeed, the increasing devastation of the world of nature is apparent to all."

The Pope's message states that the world's current ecological crisis is a MORAL problem and further, that "the most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological crisis is the lack of RESPECT FOR LIFE evident in many 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."

The Pope's message points out forcefully that "WE CANNOT INTERFERE IN ONE AREA OF THE ECOSYSTEM WITHOUT PAYING DUE ATTENTION BOTH TO THE CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH INTERFERENCE IN OTHER AREAS AND TO THE WELL-BEING OF FUTURE GENERATIONS...delicate ecological balances are upset by the uncontrolled destruction of animal and plant life or by a reckless exploitation of natural resources. It should be pointed out that all of this, even if carried out in the name of progress and well- being is ultimately to mankind's disadvantage."


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