But the Catholic Church doesn't tell us to go forth and trash creation.
I think that's implied in the last part of Genesis 1:
"God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed - the sixth day."March 7, 2012) Here's part of what the Catholic Church has to say:
"Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the 'six days' it is said: 'And God saw that it was good.' 'By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth, and excellence, its own order and laws.'208 Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment."I spent my teens in the '60s, and remember seeing islands of suds floating down the Mississippi River.
"In God's plan man and woman have the vocation of 'subduing' the earth248 as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator 'who loves everything that exists,'249 to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the world God has entrusted to them."
"The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.195 Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.196"
For all the wackiness of environmental concerns since then, there was - and is - a reason for not dumping sewage in our drinking water.
Turns out, the folks who felt kinship with squirrels and nuts had found something real. What they did with that truth is another topic.
Here's part of what the Church has to say about the "solidarity among all creatures:"
"There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory:That quote is from a translation of Saint Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Creatures." Odds are that you've run into it as "The Canticle of the Sun."1
"May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendor, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . . .(Catechism, 344)
"May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste. . . .
"May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . . .
"Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.212"
Phrases like "sister earth, our mother" may sound like something from a bad trip in Leary Land, but I think it's a mistake to see Saint Francis of Assisi as a spaced-out '60s hippie: and a bigger one to assume that God has the attitude of a 19th-century factory owner. Or that God is a story concocted by male chauvinist pigs: and that's yet another topic.
- "Humans: How do We Fit In?"
(March 28, 2012)
- "The Visible World"
(March 7, 2012)Particularly
- "God, Genesis, the Catholic Church, and Getting a Grip"
(June 22, 2011)
- "Climate Changes: So What Else is New?"
(May 16, 2011)
- " 'Frail, Delicate Little Mother Nature?!' (or, getting a grip)"
(April 15, 2011)
1 Saint Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of Creatures" is often called "The Canticle of the Sun" in my culture:
The Canticle of the Sunby Francis of Assisi
"Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.
"Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.
"Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.
"Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.
"Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.
"Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.
"Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
"Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
"Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.
"Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility."
(Translated by Bill Barrett from the Umbrian text of the Assisi codex.)