Eighth Work of Mercy: Protect the Environment

VATICAN CITY (RNS)

By Josephine McKenna:

Pope Francis has called for urgent action to stop climate change, saying care of the environment should be added to the traditional works of mercy such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

In a message released Thursday (Sept. 1) to mark the Catholic Church’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which Francis instituted last September, the pontiff noted that the worst impact of global warming was being felt by those least responsible for it — refugees and the poor.

The latest message renews the powerful themes Francis launched in his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’.” The pope referred several times to humanity’s destruction of the environment as a “sin” and he stressed the need for “mercy towards our common home.”

“We usually think of the works of mercy individually and in relation to a specific initiative: hospitals for the sick, soup kitchens for the hungry, shelters for the homeless, schools for those to be educated, the confessional and spiritual direction for those needing counsel and forgiveness,” Francis wrote.

“But if we look at the works of mercy as a whole, we see that the object of mercy is human life itself and everything it embraces.”

The pope also cited the latest research to bolster his religious exhortation, noting that global warming has continued. He wrote that “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.

“Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.”

The pope said “we have sinned” and, referring to his encyclical from last year, he said mankind has turned God’s creation into a “polluted wasteland” full of “debris, desolation and filth.”

“We must not be indifferent or resigned to the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of ecosystems, often caused by our irresponsible and selfish behavior,” he said. “Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence. … We have no such right.”

Francis stressed that human beings were “deeply connected” to all elements of creation and needed to examine their conscience and repent.

“When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings. At the same time, each creature has its own intrinsic value that must be respected.”

Returning to themes he mentioned in “Laudato Si’,” the pope asked people to reflect and act on our system of “profit at any price,” which had “no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature.”

He called for consumers to modify their modern lifestyle in a practical way – and consume less, plant trees, separate garbage and increase car pooling.

“The resolve to live differently should affect our various contributions to shaping the culture and society in which we live,” he said.

The pope also pressed for a social and political breakthrough and urged political and business leaders to think beyond self-interest.

“Economics and politics, society and culture cannot be dominated by thinking only of the short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains,” he said.

“The protection of our common home requires a growing global political consensus.”

Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Vatican’s Council for Peace and Justice, said the pope was asking people to “acknowledge the harm we are doing to the Earth through pollution, the scandalous destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity, and the specter of climate change.”

But Turkson, who is set to head a new Vatican department on human development, told a news conference it was possible to create change and arrest environmental destruction.

“We should not think that our efforts – even our small gestures – don’t matter,” he said. “Virtue, including ecological virtue, can be infectious.”

(Josephine McKenna covers the Vatican for RNS)

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Eighth Work of Mercy: Protect the Environment

  1. John says:

    I thought Popes decided that they shouldn’t teach authoritatively on questions of science. However naturally a Marxist like Francis can’t help toeing the line.

  2. Gertrude says:

    The Pope has always denied being Marxist but I think his attitudes are probably coloured by his South American background – a place that has had more than its fair share of Marxism and extreme political involvement. Perhaps we should make allowance for this and hope and pray that he returns to the responsibilities of Holy Mother Church and the Chair of Peter viz. teaching and defending the Catholic Faith in its entirety as handed down through the apostles.

  3. Pingback: Eighth Work of Mercy: Protect the Environment | Catholic Communicator

  4. mmvc says:

    After reading various conflicting articles about this, I’m still not sure whether LS, AL and statements such as the above are in fact authoritative papal teachings. And if so, should we in all earnestness confess ‘sins against the environment’? I’ve never yet confessed imperfect segregation of plastic, tinfoil and paper into my recycling boxes or keeping lights on unnecessarily.

  5. JabbaPapa says:

    I thought Popes decided that they shouldn’t teach authoritatively on questions of science

    In what way is corporal Charity a “question of science” ?

  6. JabbaPapa says:

    mmvc :

    After reading various conflicting articles about this, I’m still not sure whether LS, AL and statements such as the above are in fact authoritative papal teachings

    You may be giving the word “authoritative” too much weight than it actually has.

    It literally means “from a religious Authority” — so yes, those documents are authoritative.

    This does not require that they be added to the Deposit of Faith, certainly not, nor does it prevent detail disagreements with certain content.

    Fundamentally, the hermeneutic of rupture is based on the false claim that Catholic Doctrine is mutable, whether one is enthusiastic about such false prospects or to the contrary, exaggeratedly hostile towards any changes in any Catholic teachings whatsoever, even when they are quite overtly pastoral or disciplinary only and have no meaningfully dogmatic purposes.

    The Pope meanwhile has NOT proposed changing the Works of Mercy — Quindi, mi permetto di proporre un complemento ai due tradizionali elenchi di sette opere di misericordia, aggiungendo a ciascuno la cura della casa comune..

    He has proposed “care for the shared home” as a complementary exercise to (those Works. There is NO suggestion that anything should be “added” to them.

  7. JabbaPapa says:

    There is NO suggestion that anything should be “added” to them

    I should clarify — there is no suggestion of an “eighth work” — “aggiungendo” here means, in the Italian, something closer to “additionally” than “adding to”.

    He is proposing corporal and spiritual actions, in addition to the seven Works in each domain, for the purpose of “care for the shared home”, which is an obviously far broader domain than just climatology, pollution, and voting for Marxist candidates.

    And really — people should be more familiar with the Tradition of the Faith before shooting off these kneejerk reactions — οἰκονομία, stewardship, is an Ancient Principle of Catholic Political theory, entirely based on exactly what Pope Francis has referred to here.

  8. mmvc says:

    Thank you for your detailed and helpful explanations, Jabba. It’s always good to have someone on board who is very well acquainted with the Tradition of the Faith to help out with any queries.

  9. Roger says:

    The Sermon On The Mount provides the Solution Matthew “..you cannot serve God AND Mammon..”

    SEEK FIRST the Kingdom Of God AND His Justice, and ALL these things shall be added unto you!

    The Globe today is Anti Of Christ (through its Laws, Abortion, Divorce, Pluralism etc..etc.. ).
    What do these Heathens(Apostates) Seek wordly interests “..care of the environment..” that’s Mammon

    [32] For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.
    [33] Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
    [26] Behold the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor do they reap, nor gather into barns: and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not you of much more value than they?
    [27] And which of you by taking thought, can add to his stature by one cubit?
    [28] And for raiment why are you solicitous? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they labour not, neither do they spin.
    [29] But I say to you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these.
    [30] And if the grass of the field, which is today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God doth so clothe: how much more you, O ye of little faith?
    [31] Be not solicitous therefore, saying, What shall we eat: or what shall we drink, or wherewith shall we be clothed?
    [32] For after all these things do the heathens seek. For your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.
    [33] Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
    [34] Be not therefore solicitous for tomorrow; for the morrow will be solicitous for itself. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.

    Like wise Luke
    [28] Now if God clothe in this manner the grass that is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more you, O ye of little faith?
    [29] And seek not you what you shall eat, or what you shall drink: and be not lifted up on high. [30] For all these things do the nations of the world seek. But your Father knoweth that you have need of these things.
    [31] But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.
    [32] Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.
    [33] Sell what you possess and give alms. Make to yourselves bags which grow not old, a treasure in heaven which faileth not: where no thief approacheth, nor moth corrupteth.
    [34] For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

  10. mmvc says:

    Fyi, here’s a commentary on the ‘Care of Creation’ message being linked to ‘Works of Mercy’:
    http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otc.cfm?id=1412

  11. Roger says:

    The Apocalypse ends with some very sober words. Fatima refers to the Apocalypse (JP II)

    Chapter 22
    [18] For I testify to every one that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book: If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book.

  12. John says:

    In response to “I thought Popes decided that they shouldn’t teach authoritatively on questions of science”JabbaPapa says:
    September 2, 2016 at 12:03
    In what way is corporal Charity a “question of science” ?

    I thought everything was founded on taking a view on a controversial scientific issue:
    “The pope also cited the latest research to bolster his religious exhortation, noting that global warming has continued. He wrote that “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events.”

    Looks like last years adjustments were quite pronounced.
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/08/01/a-game-changing-study-finds-half-of-global-warming-is-fictitious/#436efe9f6a40

    Or perhaps they have moved a few more surfacestations to airport tarmacs last year.
    http://www.surfacestations.org/odd_sites.htm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s