The message that Pope Benedict XVI gave on 1 January 2010, for the World Day of Peace starts with the words, ‘If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation’. Throughout the message he gives many valid reasons as to why Christians should care for Creation and how this will help promote peace. The message is well worth reading in its entirety, but I have copied some parts of it here. You can find the entire message here:
Message for the celebration of the World Day of Peace 2010
EXTRACTS FROM POPE BENEDICT XVI’S MESSAGE FOR THE WORLD DAY OF PEACE 2010.
The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations.
Contemplating the beauty of creation inspires us to recognize the love of the Creator, that Love which “moves the sun and the other stars”
Can we remain indifferent before the problems associated with such realities as climate change, desertification, the deterioration and loss of productivity in vast agricultural areas, the pollution of rivers and aquifers, the loss of biodiversity, the increase of natural catastrophes and the deforestation of equatorial and tropical regions? Can we disregard the growing phenomenon of “environmental refugees”, people who are forced by the degradation of their natural habitat to forsake it – and often their possessions as well – in order to face the dangers and uncertainties of forced displacement? Can we remain impassive in the face of actual and potential conflicts involving access to natural resources? All these are issues with a profound impact on the exercise of human rights, such as the right to life, food, health and development.
Human beings let themselves be mastered by selfishness; they misunderstood the meaning of God’s command and exploited creation out of a desire to exercise absolute domination over it. But the true meaning of God’s original command, as the Book of Genesis clearly shows, was not a simple conferral of authority, but rather a summons to responsibility.
Man thus has a duty to exercise responsible stewardship over creation, to care for it and to cultivate it
Sad to say, it is all too evident that large numbers of people in different countries and areas of our planet are experiencing increased hardship because of the negligence or refusal of many others to exercise responsible stewardship over the environment.
Future generations cannot be saddled with the cost of our use of common environmental resources.
The ecological crisis offers an historic opportunity to develop a common plan of action aimed at orienting the model of global development towards greater respect for creation and for an integral human development inspired by the values proper to charity in truth.
There is a need, in effect, to move beyond a purely consumerist mentality in order to promote forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all.
It is becoming more and more evident that the issue of environmental degradation challenges us to examine our life-style and the prevailing models of consumption and production, which are often unsustainable from a social, environmental and even economic point of view.
he Church has a responsibility towards creation, and she considers it her duty to exercise that responsibility in public life, in order to protect earth, water and air as gifts of God the Creator meant for everyone, and above all to save mankind from the danger of self-destruction.
Nor must we forget the very significant fact that many people experience peace and tranquillity, renewal and reinvigoration, when they come into close contact with the beauty and harmony of nature.
For this reason, I invite all believers to raise a fervent prayer to God, the all-powerful Creator and the Father of mercies, so that all men and women may take to heart the urgent appeal: If you want to cultivate peace, protect creation.