The exploitation and destruction of forests without much or any concern for the future has been a problem in many parts of the world for centuries. In recent decades tropical forests from South America to Indonesia have suffered at an accelerated rate.
Church leaders have tried to educate the faithful and to defend indigenous peoples in several places. Read Barb Fraze’s article, Church leaders defend Amazon region, people, which was published earlier this month in the Western Catholic Reporter, and learn about the public launch of a new pan-Amazonian network and why Latin American Church leaders are calling for a Church with an “Amazonian face.”
People of every spiritual tradition should explore the heritage of their faith with regard to the human interaction with planet Earth. The accusation that the Genesis Creation narrative is responsible for depredation of the earth is false. The Bible is theocentric; the idea that “Man is the measure of all things” comes from another source; it has been taken up by some who delighted in the name of Christian, while exploiting and pillaging our natural resources. Rethinking priorities is at the beginning of a balanced understanding of the human vocation.
For decades Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has called attention to the Christian theological vision of our environment. Recently his advisor, Archdeacon John Chryssaygis, addressed an ecumenical audience at the University of Alberta. See the article, Natural environment honours the divine mystery, says cleric, in the Western Catholic Reporter for the full story.
How do human beings relate to the world?
Many people fail to acknowledge the role of agent in the service of God, as Genesis 1:26-28 should be understood.
Irish theologian Donal Dorr offers an important review of the teachings of recent Popes and agencies of the Holy See. On this dimension of Catholic social doctrine, see ‘The fragile world’: Church teaching on ecology before and by Pope Francis.
People often note that only human beings and beavers make a great impact on their environment.
Since the Industrial Revolution and especially in the context of warfare, human depredation has wreaked havoc in many places. Now, the threat of climate change is of great concern to many spiritual leaders, including Popes Benedict and Francis.
Of course, those looking only for short-term profit have ignored the warning signs from the planet itself. Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of Earth Institute, recently made a call to “raise your voice to head off disastrous climate change” on the Huffington Post blog, which you can read here.
You can also visit Friends of the Earth at www.foe.org for additional information on climate change and how you can make a difference.