Volume > Issue > On the "Greenness" of Catholicism & Its further "Greening"

On the “Greenness” of Catholicism & Its further “Greening”

HONORING NATURE, THE BODY, SEXUALITY & THE EARTH

By Stratford Caldecott | December 1989
Stratford Caldecott is a senior editor with Collins Publishers in London. Copyright 1989 Stratford Caldecott.

Pope John Paul II’s recent encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (“On Social Concerns”), has enshrined “ecological concern” as a vital element in Catholic social teaching. Indeed, it has given encouragement to all those who have been laboring to create a Catholic Green movement.

The heart of the Pope’s remarks on ecology is found in sections 29, 30, and 34 of the encyclical. He first explains that hu­manity has been given a task by the Creator: to cultivate the garden of the earth. The task is described in the Book of Genesis as “to till the ground.”

The dominion Genesis granted us over the other creatures, the Pope explains, “is not an absolute power.” There is a moral limit to the use we can make of the other creatures. The Pope implies that their value is not merely a function of the commercial use to which we can put them. They have an inherent value of their own, by virtue of their relationship to God. We have to re­spect this relationship, and our own vocation is partly to help them achieve the fullest ex­pression of the value they represent. In this way we polish the divine image in our­selves, by submitting ourselves to the rule of God.

Thus, in the vision of Genesis, our own interests and those of the rest of nature ultimately coincide. Something of this can be glimpsed wherever the landscape has been shaped by men and women in love with the earth, respecting the materials with which they build. Compare this with a landscape shaped by men in love only with superficial pleasure or profit: the average seaside resort or industrial site. We can either degrade the earth to below the natural level, or raise it to a new level of harmony and grace.

Enjoyed reading this?

READ MORE! REGISTER TODAY

SUBSCRIBE

You May Also Enjoy

Christopher Lasch, Radical Orthodoxy & the Modern Collapse of the Self

Ed. Note: Christopher Lasch, R.I.P., is a Contributing Editor of the NOR.

In the divided…

The Civilization of Love: the Pope's Call to the West

Ed. Note: What follows is a joint statement orga­nized and coordinated by David L. Schindler…

A New Springtime for Liberal Catholicism?

When John Paul II and Benedict XVI commanded the chair of Peter, conservative and orthodox Catholics knew the pope and Magisterium were their 'court of last appeal.' That privilege now belongs to liberal Catholics.