Contemporary Issue: Human Environment
Pope Benedict XVI firmly and extensively continued and buildt on Saint John Paul the Great's introduction of Ecology and Environmentalism into Catholic Social Teaching. And like his predecessor, he anchors this with a call for an "ecology of the human person".
While specifics include urban planning and the “social ecology” of work, what Catholic Social Teaching identifies as the more serious destruction of our human environment really transcends these specifics and involves issues of the social structure in which we live. These structures can either help or hinder our living in accordance with the truth and it is here that CST begins to integrate issues of life.
Indeed, CST points out the
"serious destruction of the human environment, something which is by no means receiving the attention it deserves." (CA, 38)
What is Human Ecology?
CST calls for the development of an “ecology of the human person":
"[T]he decisive issue is the overall moral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology…It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves. The book of nature is one and indivisible: it takes in not only the environment but also life, sexuality, marriage, the family, social relations: in a word, integral human development." (CIV, 51)
Can One Separate Issues of Life and The Environment?
No. It must be noted that just as he does in Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict points out the inseparable link between protecting the environment and protecting life:
Hence I readily encourage efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility which, as I indicated in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, would safeguard an authentic “human ecology” and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbour and respect for nature. There is a need to safeguard the human patrimony of society. This patrimony of values originates in and is part of the natural moral law, which is the foundation of respect for the human person and creation. (2010 World Day of Peace Message)
Why is the Church So Concerned with These “Environmental Issues"?
As Pope Benedict said in August 2009, “The Church…above all is committed to protect man from the destruction of himself.” (General Audience, 26 August 2009)
How Do We Begin to Fix Our Human Environment?
In a brief but profound problem/solution statement on family policies/issues Blessed John Paul said we must overcome today’s widespread individualistic mentality through a concrete commitment to solidarity and charity, beginning in the family.
Related EncyclicalsCentesimus Annus
Related Thoughts on Human Environment
Solidarity and Subsidiarity are key components of our Faith, having the potential to place the laity on the path to discovering our supernatural destiny. Taken from " What are Solidarity’s and Subsidiarity’s Practical Value?"
I invite you to look around at the new things which surround us and in which we find ourselves… (Saint John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991) Taken from "Catholic Social Teaching 101"
The Catholic Church's view of human dignity springs from human agency and free will, with the further understanding that free will in turn springs from human creation made in the image of God. Taken from "A Deeper Examination of Human Dignity"
Related Speakers / Panelists / Authors on: Human Environment
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