Recovering the Gift of Creation
On the whole, the world is perhaps more concerned for our natural environment than ever before, and not without reason. The causes for concern are many. Catholics certainly play an important role in the care for our common home.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of the encyclical Laudato Si’, promulgated by Pope Francis. What new light does the Catholic tradition shine on the environmental awareness that has developed over the last half century and the initiatives that are underway around the world?
As St. Paul observed, “Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made” (Rm 1:20). Catholic teaching on Creation, from the simplicity of St. Francis to the profundity of St. Thomas Aquinas, is marked by the dual insight that it is truly a gift. Creation is both separate from God, with its own freedom and integrity, and also hides God present within it. While cautioning us against the presumption that we can fully decipher and control the inner workings of the natural world, the Catholic tradition also instructs us on our covenantal responsibility towards all of Creation. The appreciation of the ontological dimension, otherwise rarely considered, gives Catholic thought profound insights into every dimension of Creation – humankind’s role within it, as well as the challenges its rightful stewardship presents – from the technical, to the economic, the political and social, through to the ethical dimension of our everyday actions and our most dear relations of marriage and family.