Easter and Earth Day

Easter and Earth Day

by April 22, 2012

As the Easter season continues we are still immersed in the joy brought about from the  resurrection of Jesus.  I would like to consider how the experience of the risen Lord  calls us to renew our commitment to the virtue of prudence as well as to values such as solidarity, charity, justice and the common good regarding the most vulnerable-  the poor of earth.  The reason for this re-commitment is the upcoming celebration on April 22 of the 42nd  anniversary of  Earth Day.

Due to global climate change our environment, which is God’s creation, is in danger. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),[1] earth is getting warmer mostly because of human actions.[2] These actions reflect greed, selfish attitudes, neglect, and/or abuse that many countries and too many individuals demonstrate towards God’s creation.  

The Catholic Church, following the evidence found by the IPCC and through its teaching on the environment, reminds us of our essential duty to care about all of creation, especially its people.  Important attention is directed to those most vulnerable to climate change-  the poor.  This has led to initiatives such as the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, launched in 2006 with the support of both the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, to inform and make people conscious of values such as stewardship.  This was undertaken in an effort to counteract climate change and to live more appropriately the values of God’s kingdom.

Patterns such as greed, selfishness, neglect and lack of commitment to the poor as criticized in different church documents and by different popes and episcopal conferences motivated the Bishops of the United States to issue a statement in June, 2001 called Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and Common Good.  In this statement the bishops sought to call all persons of good will to care for creation through our attitudes and actions towards the environment by viewing it as a God-given gift.  The bishops focused on “the needs of the poor, the weak, and the vulnerable in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests.”[3]

The bishops of the United States see in the virtue of prudence the key to addressing climate change.  Prudence as “intelligence applied to our actions,”[4] helps us to recognize the common good in specific situations. Regarding climate change, prudence tells us that the earth’s atmosphere, which supports life, is a common good.  “Each of us is called to be a steward of this very life.”[5]

Pope Benedict XVI in his message for 2010 World of Day of Peace, If you Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation, also recalled the long tradition of Catholic social teaching regarding the environment and stewardship. In this message our current pope speaks in terms of solidarity in the relationship between the Creator, human beings and the created order. In this manner, he points out the characteristics of solidarity that must be understood if Christians want to cultivate peace through the protection of the environment.

Benedict XVI speaks about solidarity in three ways, as “an urgent need,”[6] as based in the exercise of the virtue of prudence[7]  and as “global solidarity.”[8] Pope Benedict XVI’s message of 2010 instructs Christians about the real motivation to fight against ecological degradation. It is “the quest for authentic worldwide solidarity inspired by values of charity, justice and the common good.”[9]

Through the committed practice of the stewardship of earth as the best way to fight against climate change, humans can live the virtue of prudence and values such as solidarity, charity, justice and the common good. This frequent and committed practice of stewardship surely will make visible our experience of the risen Lord every day.


[1] The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) established in 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. Title of website, name of this particular page is: http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization.shtm

[2] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB. Faithful Stewards of God’s Creation. A Catholic Resource for Environmental Justice and Climate Change (Washington D.C: USCCB, 2007), 8.

[3] USCCB. Faithful Stewards, 9.

[4] Ibid., 9.

[5] Ibid., 10.

[6] Benedict XVI, “If You Want to Cultivate Peace Protect the Creation,” Vatican, World Day of Peace, 1 January 2010 (Rome IT: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2010), http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20091208_xliii-world-day-peace_en.html, 5.

[7] Ibid., 10.

[8] Ibid., 12.

[9] Ibid., 15.

Nelson Araque, M.A.
Catholic Climate Ambassador

Nelson Araque is from Bogota, Colombia and he lives in Dania Beach, FL with his wife and his daughter. He teaches at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Mr. Araque holds a B.A in Philosophy and Literature from Universidad de La Salle in Bogota, Colombia, a M.A. in Pastoral Ministries from St. Thomas University in Miami and he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Theology at Barry University where he hopes to receive a D. Min soon.

Mr. Araque is also a Catholic Climate Ambassador and you can contact him at nap70@hotmail.com

 

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