Integral ecology

"The first ecology is to take care of the weakest," religions say

Representatives of the main religions in Spain agreed that "in the care of creation, the first thing is to care for people, the weakest, the poor, refugees, the persecuted, human embryos". The host was Cardinal Juan José Omella, at the Paul VI Foundation.

Rafael Miner-December 14, 2021-Reading time: 5 minutes

Under the heading "COP 26: the commitment of religions to climate change", leaders of the main religions in Spain yesterday reflected on the care of the Common House, creation, and climate change, with the reference of the recent COP26 summit held in November in Glasgow. The words of Pope Francis in October of this year to religious leaders, to commit to environmental sustainability and the fight against poverty generated by environmental emergencies, were a reference of the meeting.

Convened by the Episcopal Commission for Social Pastoral and Human Promotion of the Spanish Episcopal Conference (CEE), the meeting was attended by Cardinal Juan José Omella, Archbishop of Barcelona and President of the CEE; Archimandrite Demetrio, of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Spain and Portugal.Mohamed Ajana, of the Islamic Commission of Spain; Moshe Bendahan, of the Comunidad Judía de España (Jewish Community of Spain) and Alfredo Abad, of the Spanish Evangelical Church. The colloquium at the Paul VI Foundation was moderated by María Ángeles Fernández, director of Últimas preguntas (TVE) and the program Frontera (RNE).

"Are we human? Are we brothers?"

In the context of the topics raised by the moderator, there was a moment in which Cardinal Omella recalled the time spent in Africa, and referred to the fact that "we have to become aware of the people who flee their country" because of poverty, ideological wars, persecution, climate change and disasters", and face "a global commitment of all", avoiding the "lack of solidarity". "Are we human, are we brothers and sisters?" he asked the audience and the many people who followed the meeting online.

A little later, Fr. Demetrio, of the Orthodox Archbishopric of Spain and Portugal, emphasized in the same vein that "in the care of creation, the first place is given to people, the defenseless, the weakest, refugees, the poor, the persecuted, the human embryo. Those who are terminally ill. All are part of creation, God's work. Ecology is a dimension of faith". Earlier he had referred to the fact that man has become a predator of the cosmos, instead of the gardener of Eden".

Cardinal Omella recalled in this line the encyclical 'Fratelli tutti', of Pope Francis, to appeal to human fraternity, and to the fact that we are collaborators of God in creation. The Muslim representative, Mohamed Ajana, also referred to "the person", to "acts of adoration", and to "populating the earth", avoiding "individualism".

At the same time, Moshe Bendahan, from the Jewish Community of Spain, stressed that "our children are teaching us to live fraternity, through sports, for example. "The greater the fraternity, the greater the solidarity", he added. In his speeches, he appealed on several occasions to the educational task. "Education is the basis. To educate, to bring out the potential that is within us, to bring out the potential that the human being has".

For his part, Alfredo Abad, of the Spanish Evangelical Church, referred, among other arguments, to the term "Green Churches", within the framework of a dynamic of awareness. There is a model of being a person that is perfection, and we must break this model, respecting the dignity of all human beings, he said.

The evangelical spokesman recalled a book by Miguel Pajares, 'Climate Refugees', and mentioned that human mobility affects tens of millions of people, but by 2050, climate refugees could be between 250 million and one billion people.

0.7 percent of GDP

At one point, Cardinal Juan José Omella remarked: How many years ago was 0.7 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to be allocated to the poorest countries? How many have done so? However, the president of the Episcopal Conference, after congratulating young people for their commitment to caring for the Common Home, and also organizations such as Manos Unidas, Caritas and Justice and Peace, did not shirk self-criticism.

 Religion is an instrument for caring for creation. It is at the basis of the Christian faith, "but perhaps in our catechesis and pastoral work we have not cultivated or taught it sufficiently," he said. "In these moments we have become more aware of the need to take care of creation, which is a gift from God, and the Pope himself has called our attention to it; be careful, we are playing a lot for future generations.

"I give just one example: the same hymn of St. Francis of Assisi," the cardinal pointed out. "The universal, global brother, who has that beautiful canticle of creatures, and who has given rise to that encyclical that the Pope has written for the care of creation, which has a broad sense, not only of material things and animals, but also the human being as the center of creation."

Balance between creation and human development

Some other aspects of substance included reflections on the theological foundation, combined with practical aspects of improvement, within the framework of a general coincidence: religion as a factor of social commitment and work for the common good, as noted by the moderator María A. Fernández.

"God is the creator of all things, also of man. [Ecology is not a return to wild nature, but a balance between creation and human development. It is true that everything is God's work, but within this creation there are also levels of responsibility. The summit of all created things is man, and all created things are created for man to live on earth, and to take care of the weakest," said the Orthodox Archimandrite, Fr.

The Islamic spokesman, Mohamed Ajana, stressed, after the general principles, that "God, at creation, placed the earth and natural resources at the service of man, but man must make the effort to take care of it and protect it. And laws alone cannot achieve this effect. A social commitment, an ethic, is needed to achieve any effect. The role of religions must be, can be, to do more pedagogy and to specify what each one can do".

Human responsibility

The great Rabbi Moshe Bendahan, read a rabbinical commentary regarding the verse in Genesis that talks about "God put man to work and take care of Eden". The commentary is: "At the moment God created man, He placed him in front of all the trees in the garden, and said to him: 'Observe my creation, how beautiful and pleasant they are, and all that I made for you. Be careful not to damage my world, for if you alter it, there is no one who can put it back together again. Here we see a little of the spirit, the responsibility that the human being has over creation." As it has been well said, added Rabbi Bendahan, "we are not the owners of the world; we have the commitment to take care of it and keep it".

Alfredo Abad, an evangelical leader, cited two elements that are, he said, "in Laudato si', and have to do with the change of economic model. Ecclesiastes says: do not accumulate or you will not do well. And another is the text of Romans 8, which points out: the whole creation groans together in travail waiting for redemption". "The general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation likes to talk about theology of creation, yes, along with theology of the Cross. We talk about 'climate justice. It is a responsibility to recompose this situation."

"Green shoots"

Cardinal Juan Juan José Omella finally pointed out, "by way of a headline", that "the dry tree that falls down makes more noise than the green shoots that come out". In his opinion, "those green shoots that can be seen in this issue, thanks to everyone, to the institutions that are here, together with the depth and spirituality of which the great Rabbi spoke, will bear fruit".

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