Summary: We are stewards of our natural creation, and this implies a responsibility for it to our God.
March 1, 2010
Monday of 2nd Week of Lent
Caritas in Veritate
The prophet Daniel, speaking in a place of exile, rightly places the blame for all human ills on human sin.. God is all mercy and compassion. We are, in our fallen existence, eager to judge the faults of others and lax in our judgement of ourselves. That’s one reason Jesus tells us not to judge other people. We can pass judgement on evil behavior, but it is God’s role to judge the human heart.
The Lord is truly a “great and awesome God, . . .who keep[s His] merciful covenant toward those who love [Him] and observe [His] commandments!” One of His greatest gifts is our natural world. As the Holy Father says, “ The environment is God's gift to everyone, and in our use of it we have a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.” But responsibility implies One to whom we are responsible, the one who will judge our conduct in the end. If we engage in rapine and plunder of the earth’s resources, what will we care about the results if there is no reward or punishment in the end? Our primary responsibility for the earth is to the earth’s creator and Savior, to the Word of God “through whom all things were made.” He will be our judge in the end. The Pope goes on, “When nature, including the human being, is viewed as the result of mere chance or evolutionary determinism, our sense of responsibility wanes. In nature, the believer recognizes the wonderful result of God's creative activity, which we may use responsibly to satisfy our legitimate needs, material or otherwise, while respecting the intrinsic balance of creation. If this vision is lost, we end up either considering nature an untouchable taboo or, on the contrary, abusing it. Neither attitude is consonant with the Christian vision of nature as the fruit of God's creation.”
“Nature expresses a design of love and truth.” As St. Paul tells us, the gift of Nature tells us much about the loving and powerful hand of the Creator of Nature, one who, unlike us, is uncreated and necessary. The end of nature is to be “recapitulated” in Christ at the end of time. Nature has an end and “vocation” just as we do. It is the most obvious result of the gratuitous nature of God’s relationship to us. God has given nature an inbuilt order, “enabling man to draw from it the principles
needed in order “to till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). But it should also be
stressed that it is contrary to authentic development to view nature as
something more important than the human person. This position leads to
attitudes of neo-paganism or a new pantheism — human salvation cannot come from nature alone, understood in a purely naturalistic sense. This having been said, it is also necessary to reject the opposite position, which aims at total technical dominion over nature, because the natural environment is more than raw material to be manipulated at our pleasure; it is a wondrous work of the Creator containing a “grammar” which sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation. Today much harm is done to development precisely as a result of these distorted notions. Reducing nature merely to a collection of contingent data ends up doing violence to the environment and even encouraging activity that fails to respect human nature itself.” Human beings are essentially creatures with transcendent meaning and purpose, and any economic system or culture that ignores that is both inhuman and inhumane. In that light, the Pope insists that the international community has an “urgent duty” to regulate the exploitation of non-renewable resources, and involve poor countries, so that human development, so dependent on energy, is truly human, and so that we experience solidarity between peoples in conserving energy and making it more available to the poor.