June 11, 2010


Caring for God’s creation is a serious responsibility that all of us share

“We need to care for the environment. It has been entrusted to men and women to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom, with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion.”
—Pope Benedict XVI, April 2008

Just when it appeared that things couldn’t get worse for the communities along the Gulf Coast that have been ravaged by natural disasters in recent years, we are now confronted with perhaps the most catastrophic man-made disaster in our nation’s history.

Millions of gallons of oil from an offshore rig explosion continue to pour into the Gulf of Mexico, defying all attempts to contain the damage. At risk is marine life across thousands of miles of the shoreline of the Gulf, and the livelihood of millions of people who live, work and recreate in the Louisiana, Alabama and Florida communities—and perhaps others—that share this shoreline.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of our serious, God-given responsibility to care for the environment. Creation has been entrusted to us by God as a precious gift to be protected and cultivated with responsible freedom.

In the very act of creating man and woman in his own image and likeness, God gave us dominion—understood as responsible stewardship, not abusive domination—over the entire created universe.

Ours is a sacred duty—to maintain the purity of our air and water, and to preserve and develop responsibly the extensive natural resources and immeasurable riches of our land, our seas and our subterranean minerals and natural gases.

We have failed miserably in this fundamental stewardship responsibility. We have allowed the sins of greed, materialism and self-indulgence to blind us to the duties imposed on us by God when he first placed us in the garden of our earthly home. We have been poor stewards indeed allowing God’s creation to be abused carelessly and robbing future generations of their right to the beauty and abundance of our natural world.

What should we do?

• Pray for the people and communities who make their living along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Pray that containment efforts and cleanup will be successful. Pray that this disaster will be a decisive warning for our government, for corporations and business interests, and for all of us who consume the world’s energy resources. Pray that this kind of disaster never happens again and that we all wake up to our stewardship responsibilities for all God’s creation.

• Provide assistance—food, shelter, clothing, medical assistance and other help—to people in need. Since the beginning of May, more than 5,000 people living in south Louisiana fishing communities have benefited from emergency assistance provided by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. BP Oil has provided the Louisiana archdiocese with $1 million to help with this relief effort. It is not nearly enough. If you want to help, please send a check or money order to Catholic Charities or to the “Oil Spill Disaster Relief Fund” in care of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, P.O. Box 505, Schriever, LA 70395.

• Urge public officials, especially our representatives in Washington, to do a much better job of licensing and monitoring offshore drilling and all energy development activities.

Federal and state governments also need to cut through the bureaucratic red tape—especially in emergency situations—and do a much better job of coordinating relief efforts and responding to natural and man-made disasters. Let elected officials know that we expect them to be responsible stewards of our nation’s resources, and that we will definitely hold them accountable!

• Finally, we should each examine our own stewardship of resources. How much energy do we waste on a daily, monthly or yearly basis? Are we consuming irresponsibly? Are we doing our part to make God’s creation as “green” and abundant and beautiful as God intended? How are we protecting and cultivating with responsible freedom all of God’s natural gifts—with the good of all as a constant guiding criterion?

It is not too late to save our Earth from humanity’s abusive greed and irresponsibility. But as good stewards, we must all take responsibility for the care and cultivation of God’s creation.

In a very real way, the future of our planet—and perhaps the entire universe—has been placed in our hands. We need to take this responsibility much more seriously.

—Daniel Conway

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