Building a New Culture – Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment

Monday, April 08 2013

Cover_page_Text_Environment(CCCB – Ottawa)… The world today is rightly concerned about the state of the environment. These concerns are shared by the Church. In his audience with representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities and other religions, after being elected to the See of Peter, Pope Francis said that “The Church is likewise conscious of the responsibility which all of us have for our world, for the whole of creation, which we must love and protect.”

The Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has outlined eight central themes in recent Church teaching on the environment. “These reflect on how a Catholic approach to economic questions, social justice, and environmental questions are necessarily viewed in relation to each other,” the Episcopal Commission states in its text which was released today.

The citations in the document are from various messages, speeches, homilies and Encyclicals of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. Although Pope Francis is not specifically quoted in the document, the Holy Father has already spoken about the environment in his first speeches and homilies.

The eight central themes identified  by the CCCB Commission for Justice and Peace are the following: our creation in God’s image; creation’s intrinsic order; the relationship of “human ecology” to environmental ecology; responsible stewardship; the morality of caring for the environment; solidarity; creation and spirituality; and necessary responses to environmental problems.

In its conclusion, the Commission recalls that “Each of us is responsible for doing our part to build up this culture, which must be a culture of ‘life’ in every sense of the word. But since this new culture can only develop when we recognize the proper way of relating to God, to ourselves, and to the rest of creation, the eight themes above have been presented to help Catholics in this task of cultural renewal.”

Dioceses, parishes, ecclesial movements and other Catholic organizations will wish to reflect on and discuss the Church’s teaching on the environment. The document is available on the CCCB Website and from CCCB Publications. Copies can be ordered by phone at 1-800-769-1147, by email at or online at