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Pope Francis issues a NEW CHALLENGE, but it's expected Americans will FAIL HARD... What about you?
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Pope Francis is inviting all Catholics to join him for the first ever "Environment Day" on September 1, 2015. That day will be marked by prayer and reflection as Catholics are asked to consider how they might live more sustainably. The day will come as a challenge for many American Catholics.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The world's 1.2 billion Catholics are all asked to join Pope Francis in a day of prayer and contemplation on September 1. That day has been dubbed "The World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation" and it coincides with the pre-existing "Environment Day" in the Orthodox Church as well as with UN climate negotiations in, Bonn Germany.
Following the release of his encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis has not held back from making himself plainly understood. Climate change is real, it is manmade, and as we destroy the environment, we fail as stewards for all creation and we especially fail the poorest among us.
The environment and markets are made for man, not the other way around. There remain those who behave as though man has been created to serve the market, and there are those, on the other end of the spectrum, that believe man was made to serve the environment. Both views are mistaken.
Man is the caretaker of the environment and he should behave in such a way as to manage its bounty for the good of all, especially those who have little.
On September 1, Catholics will spend time in prayerful reflection, asking how they might live in greater harmony with the environment. This day will be especially challenging for Americans who make up just 5 percent of the global population, but consume approximately a quarter of the world's resources.
This massive appetite means Americans consume more than their share, causing others to go without, even though they don't see it firsthand. How can we, before all others, make changes that will benefit the world? This is a question we must each answer as individuals before September 1.
Will many Americans find some way to improve themselves? Will more commit to recycling, giving to the poor, to burning less energy? Will we find ways to waste less? Unfortunately, the answer is probably not, for gluttony is ingrained into our lifestyle.
Fortunately, despite the grim tragedy that Americans overconsume, conditions are improving. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Catholic Church, charitable organizations, world governments, and an overall improvement in global productivity, we are on the brink of eradicating absolute poverty, the condition in which people do not have enough resources to sustain themselves.
Still, as Catholics, it's up to us first, to meet the demand to satisfy all those who hunger and need, while avoiding irreparable damage to the environment. This is what we have been tasked with by Jesus Christ and it is a fundamental part of our mission as Christians.
Indeed, the planet already produces enough to sustain all who live on it, but we need to distribute this bounty more equitably so.
At the same time, we should also praise the labor and the entrepreneurship that goes into making the world better. Those who work and those who engineer a better world also deserve to live well as a reward for their efforts. There is no cause to "eat the rich" as some would have it, and there is no cause to condemn capitalism, for it is part of what makes the world so productive, but there is cause to ensure that all people are taken care of. In order to do this, we must develop a stronger sense of our Catholic ecology.
We have lived too long as "Americans," consuming and building up without end, for the sake of self-enrichment. It is time now to think about others as we build, and to consider how we can share the bounty of what we have with them.
Let us remember, that all good things we have through God, and we are given these gifts not to keep for ourselves, but to treat others. If we hoard and consume for ourselves alone, we fail in our mission of service and must sadly reap the consequences alongside those we have failed.
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