Last thoughts on Care for the Environment as we wrap up Chapter Nine. Note the special concern in this last chapter topic for the Amazon region. We will see how the upcoming synod (prep document here) addresses this matter. On that document link, note section nine which addresses ecological concerns.
The Aparecida bishops write:
475. Create consciousness in the Americas of the importance of the Amazon for all humankind. Establish a collaborative ministry among the local churches of the various South American countries in the Amazon basin, with differentiated priorities for creating a development model that puts the poor first and serves the common good. Support with the necessary human and financial resources, the Church that lives in the Amazon so that it may continue proclaiming the gospel of life and carry out its pastoral work in forming lay people and priests through seminars, courses, exchanges, visits to communities, and educational material.
We will see how this develops in the coming year as Church representatives discuss matters involving the environment. One passage from the document explores what is meant by an “integral ecology.”
However, integral ecology is more than just the connection between the social and the environmental spheres. It also encompasses the need to promote personal, social, and ecological harmony, for which all are called to a personal, social, and ecological conversion (cf. Laudato Si 210). Integral ecology, then, invites us to an integral conversion. “This entails […] the recognition of our errors, sins, faults, […] failures” and omissions by which “we have harmed God’s creation”, and “leads to heartfelt repentance” (Laudato Si 218). Only when we are aware of how our lifestyles – and the ways we produce, trade, consume, and discard – affect the life of our environment and our societies can we initiate a comprehensive change of direction.
So, when we speak of the environment we are not only talking about a material possession on a regional or even a planetary scale. We are connected as living beings made by God. If we accept the wholeness of God’s creation, we have to confess our deep connection: physical and moral.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.