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St. John Paul II urged a pro-life response to climate change

POPE John Paul II

DANIEL JANIN | AFP

Philip Kosloski - published on 11/04/21 - updated on 04/19/24

The Polish pontiff firmly believed that respect for all human life should drive any response to the effects of climate change.

In 1990, St. John Paul II wrote his annual message for the World Day of Peace on the theme, “Peace with God the Creator, Peace All of Creation.”

In it, he details a Catholic response to the effects of climate change, always keeping in mind the dignity of every human life. He believed that much of the damage to the environment can be linked to an overall devaluing of humans in modern society.

The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of respect for life evident in many of the patterns of environmental pollution. Often, the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers, while economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples. In these cases, pollution or environmental destruction is the result of an unnatural and reductionist vision which at times leads to a genuine contempt for man.

When humans are devalued and not given the respect they deserve, the environment suffers and disastrous decisions are made that do harm to creation.

St. John Paul II believed that if anyone wants to protect the environment, they must first respect human life.

Respect for life, and above all for the dignity of the human person, is the ultimate guiding norm for any sound economic, industrial or scientific progress.

Ecological responsibiliy

Above all, true and lasting change can only be accomplished through an internal conversion, that begins in the family, and is not based on “empty wishes.”

An education in ecological responsibility is urgent: responsibility for oneself, for others, and for the earth. This education cannot be rooted in mere sentiment or empty wishes. Its purpose cannot be ideological or political … Instead, a true education in responsibility entails a genuine conversion in ways of thought and behavior … The first educator, however, is the family, where the child learns to respect his neighbor and to love nature.

If you want to change the world, start with your family and teach your children and grandchildren to respect all human life first, followed by a deep reverence for creation.

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EnvironmentPope John Paul II
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