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ARC Home > Faiths and Ecology > Christianity > Christian quotations :

Christian quotations

On ecological crisis

"The gravity of the ecological situation reveals how deep is the human moral crisis" Pope John Paul II, message for World Peace Day in 1990.

"Climate change is an issue that impels us to think about God's justice and how we are to echo it in our world." Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, during the Bali COP. Link here for the full video.

"Therefore the land mourns, and all who live in it languish; together with the wild animals and the birds of the air, even the fish of the sea are perishing". Hosea 4:2-3 (cited by Pope John Paul II to back his belief that Earth suffers when humanity turns its back on Creation)

"As one called to till and look after the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15), man has a specific responsibility towards the environment in which he lives, towards the creation which God has put at the service of his personal dignity, of his life, not only for the present but also for future generations. It is the ecological question-ranging from the preservation of the natural habitats of the different species of animals and of other forms of life to "human ecology" properly speaking - which finds in the Bible clear and strong ethical direction, leading to a solution which respects the great good of life, of every life. In fact, "the do-minion granted to man by the Creator is not an absolute power, nor can one speak of a freedom to use and misuse', or to dispose of things as one pleases. The limitation imposed from the beginning by the Creator himself and expressed symbolically by the prohibition not to eat of the fruit of the tree' (cf. Gen 2:16-17) shows clearly enough that, when it comes to the natural world, we are subject not only to biological laws but also to moral ones, which cannot be violated with impunity". Pope John Paul II from the 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae and reaffirmed by Pope Francis in 2013.

'We are the first generation since Genesis with the power to threaten the created order'. The Catholic Bishops of the USA, referring to the nuclear threat, 1983.

"We live within the covenant God makes with all living things, and are in relationship with them...We must listen to the people who fish the sea, harvest the forest, till the soil, and mine the earth, as well as to those who advance the conservation, protection, and preservation of the environment..." From
The Evangelical Lutherans website.

"In the past two decades, thanks to exemplary collaboration between politicians, scientists and economists within the international community, important results have been obtained with positive repercussions on present and future generations. I desire that, on the part of everyone, cooperation intensify to the end of promoting the common good, development, and the safeguarding of creation, returning to the alliance between man and the environment, which must be a mirror of God the Creator, from whom we come and toward whom we are journeying." Pope Benedict XVI on the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, adopted September 16, 1987.

"Care of water resources and attention to climate change are matters of grave importance for the entire human family," Pope Benedict XVI, St Peter's Square,September 5, 2007.

“We have to be prayerful people first – otherwise this whole [environment] deal becomes sheer activism. From a faith perspective, we’ve got to marry up our prayer and our action – the two go together”. Bishop Chris Toohey, interview CCN, October 2007, on the occasion of the opening of The Sound of Many Waters at Clifton cathedral.

On how to live

“Receive the world that God has given. Go for a walk. Get wet. Dig the earth.” Archbishop Rowan Williams, from the Forward to Sharing God's Planet, Church House Publishing, 2005, £5.99

“Religious institutions themselves must examine their use of land and buildings and – yes – investments, to insure that they do not harm the environment or the human family but rather improve our natural surroundings and the conditions of our lives. And we must seek ways to go about this that go beyond pronouncements, speeches and books, as important as these can be." The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Link here for the full speech.

"Monastic poverty is based upon need (RB 34). A monastic has those things which he/she needs, but not more. Too many possessions clutter the environment and cause distraction. If the monastic's room or the monastery itself is filled with all sorts of gadgets, the monastic runs the risk of being entertained or busied all day, never having the time to listen. On the other hand, monastic poverty should not be a poverty of destitution which would only result in the monastic being overly concerned with the daily needs of life. Such a poverty would mitigate against listening because the monastic would be too concerned with mere survival to be listening to another." St Benedict. From the Order of St Benedict website.

“We must educate our people to the truth that having more and more things is not the true measure of a good life. What makes life more meaningful and joyful are spiritual values, which help us to respect our rivers, mountains, sea, and one another. Therefore, we need a massive global theological renewal and reconstruction regarding our understanding of God, the Creator and the Sustainer, in light of the environmental crisis facing the earth. Creation protests its treatment by human beings. It groans and travails in all its parts. Christians, you are “earth keepers”. Rise up to your calling.” Pastor Kumalau Tawali, teacher, poet, author and journalist, quoted on the Church of South India Christmas e-card, December 2008.

“Humanity is no longer the Creator's "steward" but an autonomous despot, who is finally beginning to understand that he must stop at the edge of the abyss… At stake, then, is not only a physical ecology that is concerned to safeguard the habitat of various living beings, but also a human ecology which makes the existence of creatures more dignified, by protecting the fundamental good of life in all its manifestations and by preparing for future generations an environment more in conformity with the Creator's plan". Pope John Paul II, 19 January 2001 to a general audience in St Peter's Square.

On Creation

I often think of the heavens
your hands have made,
and of the moon and stars
you put in place.
Psalm 8

Creation has its own relationship with God, in some measure independently of humankind and beyond human understanding: it glorifies and worships God in continuous praise. Psalms 96:12; Isaiah 55:12.

The Creator's 'eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made' Romans 1:20.

Jesus points to the lilies of the field and the birds of the air as beautiful in their own right. ('Not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of these') but also as revealing the care of God for all beings Matthew 6: 26-30, a care that can liberate us from the kind of anxiety that deflects us from seeking God's kingdom first.

We are partners in God's creative enterprise, called to 'renew the face of the earth' until there is peace and harmony, sparkling life-giving water, the 'trees of life' that give health and the messianic banquet that can be shared by all the inhabitants of the earth. Then 'the curse of destruction will be abolished' Revelation 22: 1-3.

"The Lord God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it." Genesis 2:15 cited by Catholics who see humanity's role as being stewards of nature, not its masters.

"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:31 cited by Pope John Paul II in 1990 to show that God entrusted Creation to human care.

"We believe this is God's 'oikoumene', God's world and we need to walk lightly and humbly within and upon it. We are stewards of that which comes from and returns to God. We believe that all of life is precious and indeed that God has so designed creation that for one part to flourish all must flourish. Further, we believe that God has created the world in balance: land and water, light and darkness, evening and morning, sowing and reaping, winter and summer, birth and death, belong together; to exploit one to the detriment of another is to put all in jeopardy." From the Statement on Safeguarding the Integrity of Creation from concerned Bishops at the Lambeth Conference, August 2008.

Prayer for creation (taken from Common Worship: Seasons and Festivals of the Agricultural Year)

God said, 'Let the waters be gathered together,
and let dry land appear.'
We thank you for the beauty of the earth,
for the diversity of land and sea,
for the resources of the earth.
Give us the will to cherish this planet
and to use its riches for the good and welfare of all.
God of life: hear our prayer.

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