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Arkansas Catholic
Little Rock, Arkansas
September 16, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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September 16, 1990

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PAGE I1 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC SEPTEMBER 16, 1990 ]!, ' ,,..._ Pope John Paul II reductionist vision which at times leads Today file ecological crisis has as- Thoughts on ecology to a genuine contempt for man. sumed such proportions as to be the The ecological crisis: a moral prob- Certain elements of today's ecologi- cal crisis reveal its moral character. First aniong these is the indiscriminate application of advances in science and technology Many recent discoveries have brought undeniable benefits to h .anity. Indeed, they demonstrate the 0.bllity of the human vocation to par- uClpate responsibly in God's creative action in the world. Unfortunately, it is clear that the application of these iscveries in the fields of industry and agriculture have produced harmful 10ng-term effects. This has led to the Painful realization that we cannot inter- fere in one area of the ecosystem with- 0nut paying due attention both to the Sequences of such interference in areas and to the well-being of tare generations. , The gradual deoletion of the ozone tayer and -, -'- .... fe. me relatect greennouse et- ct has inow reached crisis proportions a .COnsequence of industr'ial'growth, asslve urban concentrations and vasdy Creased energy needs. Industrial the burning of fossil fuels, unre- deforestation, the use of cer- of herbicides, coolants and : all of these are known to atmosphere and environment. resulting meteorological and at- changes range from damage the possible future submer- ' low-lying lands. e in some cases the damage done may well be irreversible, Other cases it can still be halted. however, that the entire Community - individuals, states International bodies - take seriously ity that is theirs. most profound and serious indi- of the moral implications under- r ecological oroblem is the lack eSpect for life evident in many of Patterns of environmental destruc- The result is an unnatural and On another level, delicate ecological balances are upset by the uncontrolled destruction of animal and plant life or by a reckless exploitation of natural resources. It should be pointed out that all of this, even if carried out in the name of progress and well-being, is ultimately to mankind's disadvantage. @ Finally, we can only look with deep concern at the enormous possibilities of biological research. We are not yet in a position to assess the biological disturbance that could result from indiscriminate genetic manipulation and from the unscrupulous develop- ment of new forms of plant and animal life, to say nothing of unacceptable experimentation regarding the origins of human life itself. It is evident to all that in any area as delicate as this, indifference to fundamental ethical norms, or their rejection, would lead mankind to the very threshold of self- destruction. Respect for life, and above all for the dignity of the human person, is the ultimate guiding norm for any sound economic, industrial or scientific prog- ress. The complexity of the ecological question is evident to all. There are, however, certain underlying principles, which, while respecting the legitimate autonomy and the specific competence of those involved, can direct research towards adequate and lasting solutions. These principles are essential to the building of a peaceful society; no peace- ful society can afford to neglect either respect for life or the fact that there is an integrity to creation. The ecological crisis: a common re- sponsibility responsibility of everyone. As I have pointed out, its various aspects demon- strate the need for concerted efforts aimed at establishing the duties and obligations that belong to individuals, peoples, states and the international community. This not only goes hand in hand with efforts to build true peace, but also confirms and reinforces those efforts in a concrete way. When the ecological crisis is set within the broader context of the search for peace within society, we can understand better the importance of giving attention to what the earth and its atmosphere are tell- ing us: namely, that there is an order in the universe which must be re- spected, and that the human person, endowed with the capability of choos- ing freely, has a grave responsibility to preserve this order for the well-being of future generations. I wish to repeat that the ecological crisis is a moral is- sue. I wish to repeat that the ecological crisis is a moral issue, Even men and women without any particular religious conviction, but with an acute sense of their responsibilities for the common good, recognize their obligation to contribute to the restora- tion of a healthy environment. All the more should men and women who believe in God the Creator, and who are thus convinced that there is a well- defined unity and order in the world, feel called to address the problem. Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith. As a result, they are conscious of a vast field of ecumenical and interre- ligious cooperation opening up. At the conclusion of this message, I should like to address directly my broth- ers and sisters in the Catholic Church, in order to remind them of their seri- ous obligation to care for all of crea- tion. 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. Respect for life and for the dignity of the human person extends also to the rest of creation, which is called to join man in praising God (cf. Ps. 148:96). In 1979, I proclaimed Saint Francis of Assisi as the heavenly Patron of those who promote ecology (cf. Apostolic Letter Inter Sanctos: AAS 71 [1979], 15090. He offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation. As a friend of the poor who was loved by God's creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation - animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon - to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote our- selves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples. It is my hope that the inspiration of Saint Francis will help us to keep ever alive a sense of"fraternity" with all those good and beautiful things which Al- mighty God has created. Any may he remind us of our serious obligation to respect and watch over them with care, in light of that greater and higher fra- ternity that exists within the human family. (Reprinted from "The Ecological Crisis: A Common Responsibility," a message from Pope John Paul II for the celebration of the World Day of Peace, Jan. 1, 1990. Publica. tion 332-9, USCC Publishing Co.) Arntrak adventures.. "o to San Antoni Nov. 23.26, 1990 See the Christmas lights on Antonio,s River Walk. "mend a Mariachi Mass at the historic Mission San Jose. miss the fun. Call Lou complete info. Northstar Travel 376-8033 / 1-800-648-8199 Rock St., Little Rock Have others watci" your waistline... Select our Light Diet Sandwich. THE BIG APPLE Delt & Goum'tet Coffee House Green Mountain Plaza, Little Rock 228-9900 Mon.- SaL I0 til 6 We accept all major c~edlt caxdl. Charles It Theresa Fm~ttsidr Chria the gln~ Parish CATHOLIC DIRECTOR OF PASTORAL SERVICES sought for progressive 188-bed acute comprehensive care medical center. Prefer degreee in theology or related disciplines, four units of CPE, two units being advanced units, advanced chaplain status with NACC, or be a fellow within COC. Pastoral services and management experience preferred. Send resume to: Sister Cheryl Sylvester Mt. Carmel Medical Center Centennial & Rouse Pittsburg, KS 66762