This concern points to our awareness of the complexity of the issue, the ambiguity of available information, the need to educate ourselves more thoroughly on this issue, and above all, to grow in awareness of creation as a gift from God. Over-consumption is the cause of the ecological problem; we are draining the planet at a terrifying rate. We need to strive for sustainability and to become better stewards of all creation. The best way to respond to the ecological crisis is to remain faithful to our Christian vocation: we are called to live more simply, to hear the voice of God in those who are suffering and to rediscover the sacrificial aspect of love.
Through prayer and reflection, we are presented with the disturbing consequences of climate change and environmental destruction; they are present now, and shall remain in the future. These can understandably lead to feelings of fear, guilt and shame; nevertheless, we should never react out of fear or helplessness. Our response should always be rooted in our love of God and for God’s creation. In addition, our discernment should move us to compassion as we become more aware of the link between ecology and poverty: the poor are usually those who are most affected by the consequences of our exploitation of the creation and all creatures.
Above all, the environmental crisis is a spiritual crisis. We may experience resistance to change our way of being through our prayers, reflections and discussions; nevertheless, we are all called to move beyond doubts and indifference to take responsibility for our home, the earth. This is a crisis that calls for conversion and reconciliation.
In the encyclical Caritas in Veritate (2009), Pope Benedict XVI addresses the environment in terms of human responsibility towards creation and the need for a human ecology, correctly understood. In Pope Benedict's own words, “our duties towards the environment are linked to our duties towards the human person, considered in himself and in relation to others. It would be wrong to uphold one set of duties while trampling on the other. Herein lies a grave contradiction in our mentality and practice today: one which demeans the person, disrupts the environment, and damages society.” (CV 51)
I pray that we continue to grow in a deeper awareness of our relationship with creation. I ask the Father for his light and inspiration as each of us discerns specific steps to address the ecological problem. I hope that we may find the generosity, openness and courage we need to respond to the Holy Trinity's invitation to labour with love for the promotion of justice and the service of faith.