This summer Pope Francis issued a rare Papal Encyclical on the environment. The encyclical — or “papal letter” — was the first in the church’s history that addresses environmental issues specifically.
Lately, our Catholic leaders have been addressing how we can protect God’s creation and the environment that sustains the human family and all the earth. Pope John Paul II said, “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.” We show our respect for our Creator by our care for His creation.
Pope Benedict XVI called us to defend and safeguard creation. “We need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world…,” he insisted.
Pope Francis recently preached, “Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, protect creation…protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as St. Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live.”
Our task, according to church leaders, is to reclaim our vocation as responsible stewards of the earth, its living and natural resources. Genesis 1:26 tells us that God created mankind to “have dominion” over all creation. We are to treat nature as the Creator would.
Another part of the creation story (Genesis 2:15) tells us we are made in the image and likeness of God and that we are brought into being to continue the creative work of God, enhancing this place we call home and ensuring that nature continues to thrive as God intended.
Heady stuff we should all contemplate this fall as we enjoy God’s created world.