Earth Day 2016
Care for God’s Creatures
April 22, 2016 marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, a secular celebration that many faith communities have incorporated into their annual calendars. This year, we join with the Earth Day Network to celebrate “Trees for the Earth.”
- Trees help lessen the impact of climate change. They absorb carbon dioxide from our atmosphere. In fact, an acre of mature trees absorbs annually the same amount of carbon dioxide produced by driving the average car 26,000 miles.
- Trees help us breathe clean air. Trees absorb pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.
- Trees help communities. Trees help communities achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability and provided food, energy and income. This is especially beneficial for poor communities overseas.
Catholic Social Thought and the Environment
“We show our respect for the creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation” (USCCB, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions, Publ. No. 7-085).
“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 13).
“Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 91).
“The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water, and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must, above all, protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology” (Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 51).
“Protecting the natural environment in order to build a world of peace is thus a duty incumbent upon each and all. It is an urgent challenge, one to be faced with renewed and concerned commitment; it is also a providential opportunity to hand down to coming generations the prospect of a better future for all” (Pope Benedict XVI, 2010 World Day of Peace Message, 14).
How You Can Celebrate Earth Day
Get resources from Catholic Climate Covenant on Laudato Si, sustainability, and comprehensive creation care. www.catholicclimatecovenant.org
Learn about the work of UNANIMA International is doing on the issues of climate change and water and learn how you can get involved. www.unanima-international.org
Follow the issue of environmental justice through the Ignatian Solidarity Network and get resources to help you care for creation. www.ignatiansolidarity.net
Select a film that has an environmental message from the Education for Justice Social Justice Film guide and host a screening. www.bit.ly/EFJ_SJFilms
Equip and empower mothers to become Water Women- compassionate agents of change in their communities who filter clean water for their families and neighbors- by supporting Water with Blessings. www.waterwithblessings.org
- What is your relationship with God’s creation? What are three small lifestyle changes you can make to protect “our common home?”
- What does your family, school, parish, religious community, etc. do to take care for the natural environment?
- How are current social justice issues in our world related to care for our common home (migration, terrorism, poverty, etc.)?