Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 18, 2006
Bankrupt spirituality blamed for global ecological crisis
New Zealand bishops call for stewardship of the earth
Catholic Online www.catholic.org
"The existence of extreme poverty and environmental destruction in our world are not natural forces, nor acts of God, but result from human behaviour."
- New Zealand Bishops
The New Zealand bishops acknowledged that science and technology "have brought many blessings to human existence," including mankind's ability to "meet basic human needs."
"But the benefits of these advances have been spread unjustly, often with an adverse effect upon the world's most vulnerable populations.
"The existence of extreme poverty and environmental destruction in our world are not natural forces, nor acts of God, but result from human behaviour," the bishops said.
"What does the commandment 'Thou shall not kill' mean when 20 per cent of the world's population consumes resources at a rate that robs poorer nations and future generations of what they need to survive?
"What does it mean to be stewards of the earth when up to half of all living species are expected to become extinct in the next 200 years?" the bishops asked.
The bishops pointed to climate changes, rising sea levels, greater intensity of storms and natural disasters and the resulting adverse effects on food and water supplies and predictions that "there may be a million environmental refugees" from the inability of many Pacific Islands to sustain human life.
"People we may never meet, as well as those who are not yet born, will benefit or suffer as a result of the decisions we make and take in New Zealand and in the rest of the developed world," they said.
The bishops called upon individual Catholics, parishes, Catholic schools, religious communities and church organizations to respond with "individual and collective acts of selflessness . . . of self sacrifice for the greater good, of self denial in the midst of convenient choices, of choosing simpler lifestyles in the midst of a consumer society."
They pointed to using less energy, buying locally made goods which require less transportation, avoiding water waste and excess packaging as "simple steps" that can make a difference.
"Our understanding that we are stewards of God's creation, our solidarity with the poor, and our respect for the common good make the issue of environmental justice the responsibility of every person," the bishops concluded.
(© Catholic Online 2006, www.catholic.org)
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