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Bishops call for "green' Church

Salvation is not just for humankind but for all of creation, according to the annual Social Justice Sunday Statement by Australia's bishops.

The Statement, titled A New Earth: The Environmental Challenge, was launched this week by two young "green' transport buffs, Tasmanians Ben Buckland and Ben Fox, who told of their recent Round the World in 80 Ways odyssey through Europe and Asia. Social Justice Sunday falls on 29 September.

The bishops speak of a new "green' Church that rejects the former understanding that God gave humankind dominion over the earth and its resources. The statement by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, which calls on Christians to treat the Earth and its resources "ethically", is in line with Pope John Paul's much-repeated call for "ecological conversion".

The Statement is designed to draw attention to an important social justice issue so as to promote both awareness of the issue and to act as a call to action. It lists resources and publications on ecology and also includes suggestions for action. It is concerned with the global impact of continuing poor conservation, as well as Australia's part in the problem.

The bishops suggest we are not very good environmental citizens. They identify loss of biological diversity as Australia's most serious "green' crime. And our high rate of land clearance - we rank sixth in the world, clearing 564,800ha of native bush in 2000 alone - has a lot to do with this.

This has led to salt-blighted farms and water, as well greenhouse gas pollution, and also threatens our wildlife. More than 1100 species of Australian flora and fauna are on the threatened species list, with about one in four Australian mammals either extinct or threatened.

The bishops call for action on many fronts to combat this looming "green' catastrophe - from small personal actions, such as embracing recycling, avoiding waste and prudent energy and water use, to political action to bring about necessary change. They call on Catholic parents and teachers to help our children discover the wonders of nature, and for parishes, schools and dioceses to set a good example of ecological stewardship.

Green Church (summary of Social Justice Statement)

Catholic Weekly

13 Sep 2002