Last thoughts on Care for the Environment as we approach the end of Chapter Nine. As with other topics in this chapter, the bishops offer some advice for themselves and the rest of the Church:
474. We offer some proposals and guidelines toward this situation:
a) Evangelize our peoples to discover the gift of creation, knowing how to contemplate and care for it as home of all living beings and source of the planet’s life, in order to exercise human stewardship over the earth and its resources responsibly, so that it may render all its fruits as intended for all, by educating for a sober and austere way of life in solidarity.
Saint Paul, citing love as a motivation, alludes to God’s gift of manna in Exodus 16:18. Manna was a gift from God. The created world is no less so. The apostle’s quote comes to mind:
For if the eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have; not that others should have relief while you are burdened, but that as a matter of equality your surplus at the present time should supply their needs, so that their surplus may also supply your needs, that there may be equality. As it is written: “Whoever had much did not have more, and whoever had little did not have less.” (2 Corinthians 8:12-15)
The Church needs to offer a direct and in-person outreach in vulnerable locations:
b) Deepen pastoral presence in the weakest populations and those most threatened by predatory development, and support them in their efforts to attain equitable distribution of land, water, and urban spaces.
Pope Paul’s 1967 encyclical is cited:
c) Pursue an alternative development model,(Populorum Progressio 20; True development is the “transition for each and everybody from less than human conditions to truly human ones.”) one that is comprehensive and communal, based on an ethics that includes responsibility for an authentic natural and human ecology, which is based on the gospel of justice, solidarity, and the universal destination of goods, and that overcomes its utilitarian and individualistic thrust, which fails to subject economic and technological powers to ethical criteria.
In some corners, this is too radical. But it is essentially a democratic, self-determining program–something average Americans can support. Outside the 1% naturally.
Political involvement is again advocated:
d) Redouble our efforts toward enacting government policies and citizen involvement, to assure the protection, conservation and restoration of nature.
… as are watchdogs for the cause of the environment:
e) Decide on measures for social monitoring and control over the application of international environmental standards in our countries.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.