Mankind Must Not Be "Tyrant" of Creation, Says John Paul II

Offers Christian View of Ecology

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2002 ( In its relation with creation, mankind should be God´s «lieutenant,» not a «mad tyrant» responsible for environmental damage and social injustice, John Paul II says.

The Holy Father gave a Christian view of ecology when commenting on Psalm 8 at today´s general audience. In the Psalm, the biblical author asks God a perennial question: «What are humans that you mindful of them?»

Psalm 8 is the very Psalm that Paul VI gave the U.S. astronauts before their trip to the moon in 1969, so that it would enter into space.

Today´s meditation by John Paul II was part of his continuing series on biblical canticles.

The hymn begins by describing the bewilderment that every human being feels when comparing himself to the immensity of the universe, which in face of the «impressive scene of a starry night,» is compelled to ask: «What are humans?»

However, the answer to the question causes the Psalmist «great surprise,» the Pope explained.

«God has given man, a weak creature, a wonderful dignity,» the Holy Father said. «He has made him a little less than the angels or, as can also be translated from the Hebrew original, a little less than a god.»

«Man is seen as the royal lieutenant of the Creator himself,» the Pope continued. «God, indeed, has ´crowned´ him as a viceroy, giving him a universal lordship: ´You have […] put all things at their feet.´»

«However, this dominion is not conquered by man´s capacity, fragile and limited reality, nor is it obtained either by a victory over God, as the Greek myth of Prometheus intended. It is a dominion given by God,» John Paul II added.

But this dominion can be misunderstood by selfish man, «who often has revealed himself to be a mad tyrant rather than a wise and intelligent ruler,» he said.

«History documents the evil that human freedom disseminates in the world with environmental devastations and with the most terrible social injustices,» the Pope noted.

John Paul II ended by presenting Christ as the model of relation with creation, who «is not a sovereign who makes himself be served, but who serves and consecrates himself to others.»

In the light of Christ, «Psalm 8 reveals all the force of its message and of its hope, inviting us to exercise our sovereignty over creation not in dominion but in love,» John Paul II concluded.

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