We are being challenged to understand that we do not stand outside of creation but are part of it, we are in communion with all creation, the “ultimate purpose of other creatures is moving forward with us and through us towards a common point of arrival, which is God.
We have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
The Second Vatican Council understood that, as well as teaching, the Church must continue to listen to and learn from the world. Our Catholic Social Teaching develops through dialogue with the people, places, and events of history – that is to say, with the ongoing unfolding of the creation story.
We stand with Pope Francis in acknowledging “that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system” and that “humanity is called to recognise the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or the causes which produce it”.
We also need to trust the science to respond successfully to the ecological crisis, according to Professor Shine: “We must improve our understanding of fire behaviour and other adverse weather events, and we must continually develop new technologies, practices and behaviours to assist our nation to respond and adapt to, manage, and mitigate against such extreme events.”
When it comes to human knowledge of the lands and waters now known as Australia, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are our first teachers. “It is time that all Australians, particularly those following in the footsteps of Christ, recognise that God’s creation, needs to be loved, looked after and kept, not degraded or abused.
The call to care for creation goes to the heart of what it means to be human before God and in the world. It requires a profound conversion expressed in new ways of living, both personally and collectively.
Pope Francis invites us to conversion saying: “Many things have to change. It is not just a matter of awareness or changing our minds, but a shift at the level of the heart that will result in changed action. To achieve reconciliation with creation, “we must examine our lives and acknowledge the ways to bring about lasting change through community conversion. We are being called to a new way of thinking, feeling, understanding, and living.”
Pope Francis advocates “a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximising their efficient use, reusing and recycling them.”