Care for creation is central to our faith


To the Editor:

Special thanks to reporter Emily Donohue for her excellent coverage (January 17) of the “Greening Your Congregation” conference recently sponsored by RI Interfaith Power and Light. Her article accurately portrayed the essence of the evening although no words could adequately convey the energy and enthusiasm that was generated that hopefully will translate into individuals and congregations working together to respect our Creator by respecting creation.

In reply to Stephen DeNuccio’s letter to the editor in the same issue where he states that his family has “one religion called Catholicism and will never buy into the costly religion called global warming. It is a hoax.”

While I personally have never heard anyone imply that global climate issues be treated as a religion, I am aware of many thoughtful statements of concern from our own Catholic faith leaders regarding the environment in general and climate change in particular as a matter of faith. Care for creation is one of the seven major themes of Catholic Social Teaching.

Going back to Pope John Paul II’s 1990 World Day of Peace Message, The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility, we are told, “Faced with the widespread destruction of the environment, people everywhere are coming to understand that we cannot continue to use the goods of the earth as we have in the past…the ecological crisis is a moral issue. Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith…The commitment of believers to a healthy environment for everyone stems directly from their belief in God the creator, from their recognition of the effects of original and personal sin, and from the certainty of having been redeemed by Christ.”

In 1991, the Bishops of the United States issued a Pastoral Statement, Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching in which they reiterate that, “At it’s core, the environmental crisis is a moral issue.” And in their most recent document on the topic, Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good, they acknowledge that there is convincing evidence that “there exists if not a clear and present danger then a clear and future one, and that coming changes will affect all aspects of the environment and societal well-being.” They “…enter this debate not to embrace a particular treaty, nor to urge particular technical solutions, but to call for a different kind of national discussion. Much of the debate on global climate change seems polarized and partisan. Science is too often used as a weapon, not as a source of wisdom. Various interests use the airwaves and political process to minimize or exaggerate the challenges we face. The search for the common good and the voices of poor people and poor countries sometimes are neglected. At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God’s creation and the one human family…The community is built up or diminished by the quality of public debate…. We encourage all parties to adopt an attitude of candor, conciliation and prudence in response to serious, complex and uncertain challenges. We hope the continuing dialogue within and among the diverse disciplines of science, economics, politics and diplomacy will be guided by fundamental moral values; the universal common good, respect for God’s creation, an option for the poor, and a sense of interfaith and ecumenical conversion and cooperation. Finally, we wish to emphasize the need for personal conversion and responsibility.”

I respectfully and enthusiastically invite Mr. DeNuccio to visit the US Bishops website (with a link to the Vatican website) or contact me at the Diocesan Office of Community Services and Advocacy for the full text of the aforementioned documents and other related Church statements.

Pat Jaehnig

Justice and Peace Education Coordinator

Diocesan Office of Community Services and Advocacy