The 'Green Pope' Calls the Young to be Guardians of Life and Freedom
We have been given to one another as gifts. Creation has been given to us together as a human community, with responsibilities which we must now share
Pope Benedict XVI proposes a relational Catholic Environmental vision rooted in the primacy of an authentic human ecology. We are to receive one another as gifts. We must never use human persons as objects. We should receive creation as a gift, to be shared with one another, and not as an object of use. The Pope's message to the young is a message to us all. The Catholic Church has been green for a lot longer than any modern environmental movement.
Pope with High School Students in Paul VI Hall
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On Monday, November 28, 2011, in Paul VI Hall, Pope Benedict VI met with a huge crowd of Italian High School age Students. They were members of a non-profit foundation called the "Sister Nature Foundation" promoted by the Franciscan community in Assisi, Italy. The gathering occurred during the time that an international meeting in Durban, South Africa was underway concerning environmental concerns. Here is an excerpt from his message to the young:
"First of all we must remember that your foundation and this same meeting have a deep Franciscan inspiration. Even today's date was chosen to commemorate the proclamation of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology by my beloved predecessor, Blessed John Paul II in 1979.
"You all know that St. Francis is also a patron of Italy. But perhaps you do not know that he was so declared by Pope Pius XII, in 1939, who called him "the most Italian of the saints, the holiest of the Italians." If, therefore, the patron saint of Italy is also the patron of ecology, it seems fitting that young Italians should have a special feeling for "sister nature", and concretely work to defend her.
"When studying Italian literature, one of the earliest texts found in the anthologies is, in fact. St Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Brother Sun", or "of creatures,": "Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! ...." This song highlights the right place to give to the Creator, the One who has called into existence all the great symphony of creatures. "... All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures".
"These verses are part of your educational and cultural tradition. But first they are a prayer, that educates the heart in dialogue with God, teaches it to see the imprint of the great heavenly Artist on all creatures, as we read in the beautiful Psalm 19: "The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament proclaims the works of his hands... There is no speech, no words; their voice is not heard; A report goes forth through all the earth, their messages, to the ends of the world"(see 1.4-5).
"Brother Francis, faithful to Sacred Scripture invites us to recognize in nature a wonderful book that speaks to us of God, its beauty and goodness. It is enough to think of the fact that the Poverello of Assisi always asked the monk in charge of the garden of the convent, not to cultivate all the land for vegetables, but leave some for flowers, more over to cultivate a beautiful bed of flowers, so that the people who passed by would raise their thoughts to God, the creator of such beauty (cf. Vita, Thomas of Celano, CXXIV, 165).
"Dear friends, the Church, noting with appreciation the most important research and scientific discoveries, has never ceased to recall that respect for the Creator's imprint in all creation, leads to a better understanding of our true and deepest human identity. If properly undertaken, this respect can help a young person to also discover talents and personal ability, and therefore help prepare them for a certain profession, which they will always try to perform in full respect for the environment.
"If in fact, in his work, man forgets he is God's collaborator, then he can cause violence to damage to creation, which always have a negative impact on humans, as we have seen, unfortunately, on several occasions.
"Today more than ever, it has becomes clear that respect for the environment cannot forget the recognition of the value of the human person and its inviolability at every stage and in every condition of life. Respect for the human being and respect for nature are one, but both can grow and find their right measure if we respect in the human being and in nature the Creator and his creation. On this, dear young people, I believe to find allies in you, true "guardians of life and creation."
Pope Benedict's words underscore that any authentic ecology must begin with a human ecology. On January 1, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI released a letter entitled "If You Want to Cultivate Peace, protect creation". Some news reports following the release of this letter intimated that the Pope had somehow "joined" the environmental movement. he has been dubbed the "Green Pope".
The Pope was simply teaching what the Church has always taught; a proper stewardship of the environment is grounded in our obligations to - and solidarity with - one another. We have been given to one another as gifts. Creation has been given to us together as a human community, with responsibilities which we must now share. Here are some interesting exceprts:
"There exists a certain reciprocity: as we care for creation, ...
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