Benedict XVI: “revise our approach to nature”

Pope Benedict XVI gave an important address on environmental matters to the diplomats of 6 countries: Moldavia, Equatorial Guinea, Belize, the Arab Republic of Syria, Ghana and New Zealand. A summary article can be found in CNA here, highlighting the references to the nuclear disaster in Japan and a call for ‘clean energy’.

In the full translation, one can clearly see the primacy the Pope gives to the human person, as well as a recognition of the urgency for us  “to completely revise our approach to nature. Nature is not simply a space that is useful or recreational. It is, rather, the place where man was born; his “home,” so to speak. It is essential for us. A change in mentality in this realm, even with the contradictions it entails, must make it possible to quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing.” The Pope also emphasized the importance of moral guidance for the use of technology and the approach of human ecology. Below some highlights:

  • The first half of this year was marked by innumerable tragedies that have affected nature, technology and people. The magnitude of these catastrophes challenges us. It is good to remember that before all else, the person comes first. Humanity, to whom God has entrusted the stewardship of nature, cannot be dominated by technology and become its subject. 
  • Every government must commit themselves to protecting nature and assisting it to carry out its essential role in the survival of humanity.
  • It is also helpful to ask ourselves about the appropriate role of technology. The wonders it is capable of go hand in hand with social and ecological disasters. By extending the relational aspect of work to the planet, technology imprints on globalization an especially accelerated rhythm. However, the basis of the dynamism of progress corresponds to man who works and not to technology, which is no more than a human creation. To bet on it unreservedly or to believe it is the exclusive agent of progress or happiness, entails a reification of humanity that leads to blindness and misery when he himself attributes and delegates to it the powers it does not have. It is enough to see the “ravages” of progress and the dangers that an all-powerful and ultimately uncontrolled technology poses to humanity.Technology that dominates human beings deprives them of their humanity.
  • Technology should help nature develop along the lines envisioned by the Creator. In working together, the researcher and the scientist adhere to God’s plan that wished to place humanity as the apex and the administrator of creation. Solutions based on this principle will protect human life and its vulnerability, as well as the rights of the present and future generations. And humanity will be able to continue to benefit from the progress that man, by his intelligence, is able to realize.
  • Conscious of the risk that humanity runs when it considers technology to be a more efficient “answer” than political will or patient educational efforts to civilize customs, governments should promote a humanism that respects the spiritual and religious dimension of human persons. The dignity of the human person does not vary with changes in opinion

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