Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 13, 2003
Catholics called to protect environment
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The Catholic bishops' social affairs commission is challenging Canadian Catholics to safeguard and protect the environment, and to "help repair some of creation's wounds which have been inflicted due to our ecological sins."
In a pastoral message released on the feast of Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, Oct. 4, the bishops call the ecological crisis a profoundly religious crisis.
The commission says the ecological crisis is a moral issue and the responsibility of all. "Care for the environment is not an option. In the Christian perspective, it forms an integral part of our personal life and of life in society. Not to care for the environment is to ignore the Creator's plan for all of creation and results in an alienation of the human person."
The letter, entitled the Christian Ecological Imperative, says humanity has mistreated nature through rampant deforestation, extreme pollution, over-exploitation and wasted resources.
"Environmental health concerns are frequent, arising from the Sydney Tar Ponds in Nova Scotia to urban smog alerts in Toronto or Montreal, from contaminated mine sites in northern Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories to the safety of food that every Canadian family will eat."
Of particular concern to the bishops is water usage.
Many water systems in the world are over-saturated with contaminants and carcinogens, the commission notes. As well, rivers have been dammed and diverted, sometimes resulting in drought. Bulk exports of thousands of gallons of freshwater are planned as if such ecological trauma would leave no negative footprint, it says.
For persons living in poverty, water has become a right to life issue, the commission says. "The tragedy of seven deaths and thousands of illnesses in Walkerton, Ont., as a result of a contaminated water system has brought this concept into the Canadian consciousness, as well."
Access to water is a basic human right that cannot be left to the whims of market forces to deliver, says the letter.
"In our own country, Canadians should insist on government action to ban bulk exports of water, exclude water services from international trade agreements, ensure high quality standards of drinking water for all and guarantee that water utilities remain public, rather than private entities."
The letter also included an appendix suggesting ways Christians can protect the environment.