CCCB Episcopal Commission for Social Affairs Publishes a Pastoral Letter on Ecology

Saturday, October 04 2003

(CCCB – Ottawa) In a pastoral letter published today on the feast of Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology, the Social Affairs Commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has called on Canadian Catholics to care for the environment and to have deep respect for the wonders of the earth.

The pastoral letter, entitled the Christian Ecological Imperative, is inspired by the Bible, as well as the social, theological and sacramental traditions of the Church.

The letter reminds Catholics of the many ways humanity has mistreated nature, such as rampant deforestation, extreme pollution, over-exploitation and wasted resources. In particular, the bishops are concerned with water usage. “The bible speaks of living waters, of becoming a fountain of living water, of longing for running water, and of justice flowing as a mighty river. Yet how can anyone speak about the ‘waters of life’ if these waters can no longer sustain life? Without water everything dies. Water is the basic element though which all life forms emerged, exist and flourish.”

Underlining the links that exist between solidarity and ecology, the pastoral letter invites Catholics to embrace forms of eco-justice. “To ‘fast’ from actions that pollute, to embrace whatever inconveniences may arise from running a ‘greener’ household, to decrease our use of fossil fuels and to tithe time, treasure and talent to environmental causes may all be aspects of this response. Buying locally produced goods, organic produce and fairly traded merchandise are increasingly realistic options for many Canadians. We can challenge the hold of the marketplace over our lives by conscious efforts to avoid over-consumption and by using our purchasing power to promote earth-friendly enterprises.”

Through this message, the bishops on the Social affairs Commission are hoping not only to promote reflection by the faithful, but also to encourage them to take concrete steps to safeguard and protect the environment. “All of creation is of God, and is as yet unfinished. We are called as co-creators to join God’s work to repair some of creation’s wounds which have been inflicted due to our ecological sins. We are also called to creative actions of solidarity with those who have less access to the benefits of God’s bountiful creation. The ‘Lover of Life,’ who came so that we all might have life, and have it abundantly, continues to provide us with opportunities to renew the face of the earth. How can we not take up that challenge?”

The pastoral letter is accompanied by an appendix that suggests ways Christians can protect the environment.

Copies of the pastoral letter are available in English and in French from the Social Affairs Office, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2500 Don Reid Drive, Ottawa ON K1H 2J2. Telephone: (613) 241-9461, Fax: (613) 241-9048, Email:

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