The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian network founded in 1973


'Respect for all creation'

By John Thavis

From The Universe dated March 30 1997

Concern for green issues does not justify birth control campaigns targeted at poorer countries, the Pope told ecological experts.

The Pope said respect for life and a greater attitude of sharing should be hallmarks of the ecological movement worldwide.

He said Church teaching, beginning with the Bible, expresses respect for both creation and the human being's capacity to use it as a resource.

But today, an imbalance has formed, and use of resources has often turned into abuse, he added.

"The aspect of conquest and exploitation of resources has become predominant and invasive, and has reached the point of threatening the hospitable nature of the environment," said the Pope.

The mentality of the modern capitalist society was in part to blame for the abuse of natural resources, which is often driven by "the search for unlimited profits".

He added that the environment has frequently been treated as the private domain of a few powerful industrial groups, to the detriment of humanity as a whole. The result is damage to the ecosystem and to the health of the inhabitants and future generations.

Pope John Paul argued the effort to repress the birth rate, especially in developing countries, was an extremist position in the ecological debate.

The real answer, he said, was in developing new forms of solidarity with poorer nations. The international community needs "a solidarity founded on respect for life and on the promotion of resources sufficient for the poorest people and for future generations".

He said another extremist position was the attempt to eliminate the metaphysical distinctions between the human being and animals, by those who would consider the biosphere as a place of undifferentiated values.

Some would argue that the human being shares an equal dignity with all living creatures, but this would in effect eliminate man's greater responsibility in the world, the Pope stated.

He added if the ecological movement includes a strong ethical dimension, it can be successful in the long run.

The Pope said he was convinced that with modern technologies and ideas, humanity will be able to eventually clean up pollution, assure hygienic living conditions and maintain resources for future generations.

Reproduced with thanks.

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