NEW YORK, OCT. 30, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Protecting the environment implies an alliance with man, meaning that the latter should not be automatically considered a threat to the former, says the Holy See.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, affirmed this during an address delivered Monday to the 62nd U.N. General Assembly, on the topic of sustainable development.
He said: “Protecting the environment implies a more positive vision of the human being, in the sense that the person is not considered a nuisance or a threat to the environment, but one who holds oneself responsible for the care and management of the environment.
“In this sense, not only is there no opposition between the human being and the environment, there is established an inseparable alliance, in which the environment essentially conditions man’s life and development, while the human being perfects and ennobles the environment by his or her creative activity.”
Archbishop Migliore affirmed that all people share responsibility for the protection of the environment, and “while the duty to protect the environment should not be considered in opposition to development, it must not be sacrificed on the altar of economic development.”
The archbishop affirmed, in fact, that the “environmental crisis” is, at its core, a “moral challenge.”
“It calls us to examine how we use and share the goods of the earth and what we pass on to future generations. It exhorts us to live in harmony with our environment. Thus the ever-expanding powers of the human being over nature must be accompanied by an equally expanding responsibility toward the environment,” he said.
Archbishop Migliore drew attention to the role of extreme poverty in the environmental question.
“We must consider how in most countries today, it is the poor and the powerless who most directly bear the brunt of environmental degradation,” he stated. “Unable to do otherwise, they live in polluted lands, near toxic waste dumps, or squat in public lands and other people’s properties without any access to basic services. Subsistence farmers clear woodlands and forests in order to survive.
“Their efforts to eke out a bare existence perpetuate a vicious circle of poverty and environmental degradation. Indeed, extreme want is not only the worst of all pollutions; it is also a great polluter.”
However, the prelate contended, “all is not gloom.”
He explained: “Encouraging signs of greater public awareness of the interrelatedness of the challenges we face have been emerging.
“A more caring attitude toward nature can be attained and maintained with education and a persevering awareness campaign. The more people know about the various aspects of the environmental challenges they face, the better they can respond.”