There’s a lot of talk on social media about Pope Francis’ remarks on “ecological sin” and we can have much-needed debates on what the term actually means or if such a term/definition should be considered a mortal sin or even added to the Catechism.
However, at the heart of Pope Francis’ call for Catholics and the world is to be more environmentally aware. That’s neither “liberal” nor “conservative” or “heretical.” It’s about being a steward of God’s creation and treating the environment fairly which is a part of Catholic Social Teaching.
If you can’t at least see a minimum standard of how companies damage the community and harm innocent people in the process as harmful then you’re not seeing the problem Pope Francis is highlighting.
There are many countries considered “Third World” that are bastions for the world’s garbage. In fact, a lot of these countries have innocent children and families that sort through a cancerous gas-filled junkyard to make a living by finding scraps.
In addition, electronic waste, or e-waste, is a growing global concern for many countries in Africa and Asia. Electronics discarded by us somehow arrive in their backyards.
Us in the West, have the privilege of not having pollution, junkyards of cancer, or waste streaming down our water supply compared to places like Ghana or India.
Indeed, a lot of American cities wrestle with severely damaged infrastructure (sewer systems, water supply), the occasional environmental injustice litigation (think PG&E Hinkley water contamination case made popular by the film ‘Erin Brockovich‘), ignorance of improper recycling, and everyday emissions from vehicles. These too are ecological considerations corporations, forms of government, and we need to consider as stewards of God’s creation.
I think Pope Francis has opened the door to a conversation that all people need to be aware of. To be concerned about the environment isn’t a partisan issue. We all share in caring for the environment. If we do this correctly, we don’t have to worry about environmentalists radically defining and altering how we live.
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