The warm days of summer bring opportunities to spend time outdoors. As we enjoy the warmth of the sun, and sometimes endure the high heat and humidity this time of year brings to the Philadelphia region, it’s only natural to notice the beauty of nature in God’s creation.
One also witnesses the rise of climate change as an issue for discussion. Scientists are nearly unanimous that the world’s climate is becoming warmer as a result of rising carbon dioxide and other gases. Experts point to human activity as the main cause. Some of the effects, scientists say, are higher sea levels that could displace people in the world’s coastal cities, more destructive storm systems and, conversely, more droughts especially in food producing areas. Heated debate rages on airwaves and on printed pages as to how best to solve the problem with maximum effect and minimal disruption of economic systems.
The Church is not absent from this debate. Leaving climate science to the scientists and policy solutions to the experts in various fields, the Church points out the wider context of protecting the natural environment. In his recent trip to Australia for World Youth Day, Pope Benedict XVI raised the issue. Creation reminds everyone, the Holy Father said, of “the need to protect the environment and to exercise responsible stewardship of the goods of the earth.” He noted that the occasion was “appropriate to reflect upon the kind of world we are handing on to future generations.”
Just last weekend, a unique conference held in Cherry Hill, N.J., emphasized the unity of Catholic teaching in the areas of respect for the sanctity of human life, promotion of family life and social justice, including environmental stewardship. The Life, Justice and Family conference showed the enormous value of bringing together workers in the pro-life field, those working to strengthen the family and those concerned about climate change.
The Church constantly reminds the world that it must never fail to recognize that almighty God as the source of human life, of the family and its importance to society and of creation, whose responsibility for care is ours. As the conference suggests and the Church teaches, the Holy Spirit continues to work in the world among people so that together we can discover God’s saving plan for all. This powerful thread of the new evangelization binds us in common cause for the Kingdom of God.