I wish to reflect today upon the relationship between the Creator and ourselves as guardians of his creation. In so doing I also wish to offer my support to leaders of governments and international agencies who soon will meet at the United Nations to discuss the urgent issue of climate change.
The Earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator who, in designing its intrinsic
order, has given us guidelines that assist us as stewards of his creation. Precisely
from within this framework, the Church considers that matters concerning the
environment and its protection are intimately linked with integral human
development. In my recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, I referred to such
questions recalling the “pressing moral need for renewed solidarity” (no. 49) not
only between countries but also between individuals, since the natural
environment is given by God to everyone, and so our use of it entails a personal
responsibility towards humanity as a whole, particularly towards the poor and
towards future generations (cf. no. 48).
How important it is then, that the international community and individual
governments send the right signals to their citizens and succeed in countering
harmful ways of treating the environment! The economic and social costs of using
up shared resources must be recognized with transparency and borne by those who
incur them, and not by other peoples or future generations. The protection of the
environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all
leaders to act jointly, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest
regions of the world (cf. no. 50). Together we can build an integral human
development beneficial for all peoples, present and future, a development inspired
by the values of charity in truth. For this to happen it is essential that the current model of global development be transformed through a greater, and shared, acceptance of responsibility for creation: this is demanded not only by
environmental factors, but also by the scandal of hunger and human misery.
With these sentiments I wish to encourage all the participants in the United
Nations summit to enter into their discussions constructively and with generous
courage. Indeed, we are all called to exercise responsible stewardship of creation,
to use resources in such a way that every individual and community can live with dignity, and to develop “that covenant between human beings and the
environment, which should mirror the creative love of God”
The Catholic Church brings a distinct perspective to the debate about climate change by lifting up the moral dimensions of caring for God’s creation and the needs of the most vulnerable among us. Our Catholic faith calls on us to uphold the life and dignity of the human person by alleviating human suffering and promoting justice and solidarity worldwide.
Poor people should not bear an undue burden of the impacts of climate change or the global adjustments needed to address it.