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February 18, 2014

The Ten Commandments of the Environment

10commandmentsEnviromentYes, Manilaspeak readers, there are also the Ten Commandments of the Environment. No, ManilaSpeak readers, they are not to be construed as replacements of the Ten Commandments of Moses. They were not given from Mt. Sinai but the from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2004). They did not directly come from God but through the life and faith of the Church and encapsulated by Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. And they were not given only to the people of Israel but delivered at the congress on “Ethics and the Environment” held at the European University of Rome in November 7, 2005. These commandments remind us of our role as stewards of Creation. God is the owner and Creator of all creation. Our responsibility and accountability is to God. Thus, it should not be abused and misused. The human being is tasked to strike a balance between development and conservation of the environment. Care for the environment is salvific. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, the “Green Pope”,

“The Redeemer is the Creator and if we do not proclaim God in his full grandeur — as Creator and as Redeemer — we also diminish the value of the Redemption.”

While these commandments were not directly attributed to Pope Benedict XVI, they all can be found in his speeches, encyclicals, teachings and in the life and ministry.

The commandments are as follows:



The human being, created in God’s image, is placed above all other earthly creatures, which must be used and cared for in a responsible way in cooperation with the divine plan of redemption.



Nature must not be reduced to a utilitarian object of manipulation, nor absolutized or placed above human dignity.



Ecological responsibility involves the entire planet in a common duty to respect the environment as a collective good, for present and future generations.



In dealing with environmental problems, ethics and human dignity should come before technology.



Nature is not a sacred or divine reality, removed from human intervention. Thus, human intervention that modifies some characteristics of living things is not wrong, as long as it respects their place in their particular ecosystem.



The politics of development must be coordinated with the politics of ecology, and every environmental cost in development projects must be weighed carefully.



Ending global poverty is related to the environmental question, remembering that the goods of the earth must be shared equitably.



The right to a safe and clean environment needs to be protected through international cooperation and accords.



Environmental protection requires a change in lifestyles than reflect moderation and self control on a personal and social level. That means moving away from the mindset of consumerism.



Environmental issues call for a spiritual response, inspired by the belief that creation is a gift that God has placed into our responsible hands, so that we can use it with loving care. The human person’s attitude toward nature should be one of gratitude and gratefulness to God who has created and supports it.

These commandments were explained and deepened in the light of the ideas of Pope Benedict XVI in the book published by Woodeene Koenig-Bricker, Ten Commandments for the Environment: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks Out For Creation And Justice. Koenig-Bricker did a good job in presenting Pope Benedict’s concern for the environment, which is constitutive of the Christian Faith.

These commandments certainly need more elucidation and exposition in order for us to recognize its relevance in life as a whole. I will expound more on each commandment in the succeeding editions of Nurture Our World (NOW).

“Respect for Creation stems from respect for human life and dignity. It is on the basis of our recognition that the world is created by God that we can discern an objective moral order within which to articulate a code of environmental ethics. In this perspective, Christians and all other believers have a specific role to play in proclaiming moral values and in educating people in ecological awareness, which is none other than responsibility towards self, towards others, to wards Creation.”

(Common Declaration on Environmental Ethics, Pope JP II and Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church)


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