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The Feast of Saint Matthew the Apostle
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Environmental activism must also protect the unborn


Alexandr Kazharski | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 09/01/21

It is praiseworthy to protect the environment, but the unborn and vulnerable should not be neglected in the process.

During the last several decades, the Church has emphasized the need to care for God’s creation and do all that we can to preserve the natural world for future generations.

This type of environmental activis is most clearly seen in Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’.

Yet, there still remains a disconnect in the modern world between protecting the environment and protecting human life.

For some environmental activists, humans are seen as a scourge to the earth, and various artificial means of contraception are strongly advocated to limit population.

Both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have spoken against such a disconnect, urging everyone to respect both the environment and human life in all its stages.

In his encyclical Caritas in veritate, Pope Benedict XVI made this very clear.

In order to protect nature, it is not enough to intervene with economic incentives or deterrents; not even an apposite education is sufficient. These are important steps, but the decisive issue is the overallmoral tenor of society. If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology. It is contradictory to insist that future generations respect the natural environment when our educational systems and laws do not help them to respect themselves.

We need to have a holistic view when it comes to protecting the natural world, not picking sides, but protecting both nature and humans.

Pope Francis was even more explicit in Laudato si’, speaking against abortion in his encyclical on the environment.

Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”.

We are challenged to choose life in every way, being responsible stewards of the earth, but not at the expense of human life.

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