November 21, 2011

WINNIPEG – Society has a moral sense of suicide, homicide and genocide “but no moral sense of biocide or geocide,” says a Catholic bioethicist.

Sister Mary Rowell was quoting the late Thomas Berry, an American priest and ecologist as she spoke at the Canadian Religious Conference Oct. 29.

Rowell, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough, Ont., said people are well aware of environmental destruction, but few do anything about it.

The CRC organized the daylong event “for all who desire to explore more deeply our relationship with creation and our commitment to the integrity of creation.”

Rowell asked how people of faith “take the facts and turn them into something we will do something about? How do we make those facts into a moral imperative, something we need to do?”

“We can learn from the earth and its seasons such as this season of fall, a time of letting go. Do we need to let go of our economic systems? Look at the Occupy Wall Street movements; people are saying ‘Enough. We have to start reflecting.’”

Rowell said the Canadian bishops have written, “‘We are called to deepen our capacity to appreciate the wonders of nature as an act of faith and love.’ Am I prepared to put aside some things in order to achieve this?”

“We must make the links between social and ecological justice more evident in our preaching and in our community action,” she said.

Rowell said Pope Benedict has done remarkable work with other Church leaders on environmental concerns. “How do we get it from Rome to the pews? I’ll bet each of us has an option to do this.”

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict wrote, “The Church has a responsibility toward creation and she must assert this in the public sphere.”