Laudato Si 32-33: Loss of Biodiversity

Earth from Apollo 8The encyclical letter Laudato Si is available here on the Vatican website. Section III of Chapter One treats the issue of biodiversity, and its loss.

32. The earth’s resources are also being plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production. The loss of forests and woodlands entails the loss of species which may constitute extremely important resources in the future, not only for food but also for curing disease and other uses. Different species contain genes which could be key resources in years ahead for meeting human needs and regulating environmental problems.

Aware this is supposed to be the chapter for the world, and not necessarily Christianity, this passage from Sirach comes to mind:

How desirable are all his works,
and how sparkling they are to see!
All these things live and remain for ever;
each creature is preserved to meet a particular need. (42:22-23)

The need might not be our own, for human use. But any species might be part of a larger fabric, a greater intention.

33. It is not enough, however, to think of different species merely as potential “resources” to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves. Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost for ever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity. Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right.

Some might complain about the rights of human beings to exist over and above other creatures. I don’t think the Bible or Pope Francis suggests this as a value to itself. LS 33 invites us to look deeper, to move beyond using something or some creature to use it up.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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