Papal Message to Brazil's 2011 Lenten Campaign

“God Entrusts His Creation to Man […] to Preserve and Care for It”

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2011 ( Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the bishops of Brazil in support of their annual Lenten campaign. This year the campaign is focused on fraternity and life on the planet.

The Feb. 16 message was addressed to the president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana.

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To the Venerable Brother

Dom Geraldo Lyrio Rocha

Archbishop of Mariana (MG) and President of the CNBB

With good pleasure I wish to join, once more, the whole Church in Brazil, which intends to follow the penitential itinerary of Lent in preparation for the Lord Jesus’ Easter, in which the Campaign of Fraternity is inserted. The theme this year is: “Fraternity and Life on the Planet,” appealing for a change in mentality and attitudes for the safeguarding of creation.

Thinking of the motto of this campaign, “creation has been groaning in travail,” which echoes St. Paul’s words in the Letter to the Romans (8:22), we can include among the reasons for that groaning the damage caused in creation by human egoism. Nevertheless, it is equally true that “creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). Just as sin destroyed creation, it is restored when “the sons of God” become present, looking after the world so that God will be all in all (cf. 1 Corinthians15:28).

The first step for a correct relationship with the world that surrounds us is, precisely, the recognition on man’s part of his condition as a creature: man is not God, but his image; that is why he must try to be more sensitive to the presence of God in what surrounds him: in all creatures and, especially, in the human person in whom there is a certain epiphany of God. “Those who can recognize in the cosmos the reflections of the Creator’s invisible face, tend to have greater love for creatures” (Benedict XVI, Homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God, 1-01-2010).

Man will only be capable of respecting creatures to the degree that he has in his spirit a full sense of life; otherwise, he will be led to contempt for himself and for what surrounds him, failing to respect the environment in which he lives, creation. That is why the first ecology that must be defended is “human ecology” (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 51). That is, without a clear defense of human life, from its conception to its natural death, without a defense of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, without a real defense of those who are excluded and marginalized by society, without forgetting in this context those who lose everything, victims of natural disasters, there can never be talk of a genuine defense of the environment.

While reminding that the duty to look after the environment is an imperative that stems from the awareness that God entrusts his creation to man, not so that he can exercise over it an arbitrary dominion, but to preserve and care for it, as a son takes care of his father’s inheritance — and God entrusted an inheritance to Brazilians — I happily send you a propitious Apostolic Blessing.

Vatican, Feb. 16, 2011


[Translation by ZENIT]
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