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Catholics Should Make the Best Stewards of Creation

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jun 12, 2007

The Vatican auditorium will soon boast solar panels on its roof to power not only that facility but other Vatican buildings, especially during summer electrical shortages in Rome. I don’t know what the payback period is in terms of energy savings, but the plan does show the Vatican’s commitment to sustainable design.

This brings up the whole question of Catholics and the environment. After all, Christianity should be the model for stewardship, and Christians should be in the forefront of taking care of things properly. Of course, to take care of things properly, one must understand both their nature and their purpose.

Just understanding that the world and all that is in it is created is a huge first step. Creation implies a Creator, from whom we might expect some guidance. Understanding the hierarchy of created things is another giant step. Recognizing that man is at the top of the material hierarchy, and that he has been given dominion over everything else, is critical. And understanding that man is fundamentally different from animals because he alone of all material beings also has a spiritual nature—well, understanding that is a sine qua non for making sound decisions.

It is precisely because human persons transcend the material world and commune with the Creator that they can care for all of creation wisely, in the right way, and for the right reasons. Environmental mistakes on all sides—from heedlessness to over-management—have amply demonstrated the need for a big picture. Proper stewardship is, quite frankly, impossible without an understanding of the Creator’s Plan.

As different groups strive to establish their environmental priorities, it is also pretty annoying to be constantly lectured by those who don’t know a fern from a geode or a dog from a man. And maybe that should be another motivator. We Catholics do have the big picture, which includes, among other things, material detachment, service to the poor, and gratitude for all God’s gifts.

Environmentally speaking—and in every other way—these are high impact concepts. We really ought to be doing this better than anybody else.

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