There’s a lot of highly negative criticism on social media about Pope Francis’ remarks on including “ecological sin” to Church teaching.
Similarly, In October during the Amazon Synod, the group of leaders expressed a desire for an “ecological conversion” which caused an uproar.
For the most part, many consider these concepts as theologically irrelevant or a superstitious left-wing concern to supplant the tradition of the Church.
Within the Catholic Church, there can be a much-needed debate on what the terms actually mean or if such terms/definitions should be considered a mortal sin or even added to the Catechism.
However, at the heart of Pope Francis’ call for 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 or governments 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 and waste. In fact, a lot of these countries have innocent children and families that sort through cancerous gas-filled junkyards 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 wealthier countries somehow arrive in their backyards.
Us in wealthier countries have the privilege of not having pollution, junkyards of cancer, or waste streaming down our water supply compared to places like Ghana or India.
Thankfully, our sanitation, government regulations, and oversights protect our welfare.
Yet, 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.
Please don’t forget about Flint, Michigan, and their water crisis in the mid-2010s. The ripple effect of this catastrophic public health crisis will have unprecedented consequences for generations, but are understanding the full extent of the water contamination.
According to Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician in Flint, slowly this crisis is being manifested! Dr. Mona performed research on children in Flint and discovered that the percentage of children qualifying for special education services has increased because of exposure to lead.
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 or “heretical” issue but one that revolves around our common concern for our home.
We all share in caring for the planet. If we, namely Christians, do this correctly, we don’t have to worry about environmentalists radically defining and altering how we live.
Follow me @Menny_Thoughts