February 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, the former President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum and defender of the dubia cardinals, has written a review of biblical and other related sources with regard to the relationship between the Creator – God – and His creation, the earth, the cosmos, the animals. His analysis, written for LifeSiteNews (published in full below), is aimed to assess the question of whether or not it is fitting for a Christian to worship “Mother Earth.” This theme was present during the Amazon synod in Rome which concluded in October.
As it is shown with the help of multiple sources – not the least St. Paul – creation that was originally “good” in God's eyes, was deeply wounded after the Fall of Man. Writes Cordes: “In St. Paul, the contrast between God and the cosmos is evident; the Apostle attributes it to sin, which came into the world through the First Man (Rom 5:12).”
The 85-year-old cardinal, who has lived in Rome since 1980, shows that such a “brief biblical review is critical of any nature mysticism. Homogenous planetary religions, esotericism and shamanism line its path.”
“The light of Revelation opposes decidedly all worship that is not directed at God,” he adds.
“Not worship of cosmic powers, but deliverance from them is the biblical message. The coming of Christ brings it about,” the German cardinal writes.
Cardinal Cordes' full article on ‘Mother Earth’
“Mother Earth” is not only called Pachamama. As a look into the Internet shows, she is also worshiped worldwide under a different name.
“Gaia, you! Bearer, Beloved, Nurturer, Divine. Oh, You Mother of all Being, You our Earth. Holy is Your wisdom. Holy Thy Being. Holy Thy Nature. Holy Thy Perfection. Holy Thy Heart. Holy Your Source…” (retrieved www.myananda.de, 17 February 2020)
A new goddess? “Mother Earth” – a cult object? Here, for Christians, some questions are due with regard to God's Word.
The Earth – the Fall of Man – the Counter-Divine Power
In the Judeo-Christian Revelation, statements about nature and creation are not intended to present the genesis of the cosmos and of man. Instead, they want to describe God in His relationship to man. Material and earthly elements mentioned are nevertheless by no means to be interpreted metaphorically; to dismiss them as secondary would not correspond to Semitic thinking that avoids abstractions and is integrally concrete. That is why the objects mentioned in the Book of Genesis – snake, fruit, tree of life, Garden of Eden – retain their expressive value for the right understanding.
The Bible begins: “God saw all that he had made. It was very good” (Gen 1:31). Yahweh has accomplished a work that is continually being qualified as “good” and “beautiful.” Thus the believer admires creation (Ps 8: “Heaven, moon and stars”; Ps 104: “Earth, mountains, animals and seasons”) – not for its own sake, of course, but for the sake of Yahweh, who created it: “Lord, how numerous are your works! With wisdom you have made them all” (Ps 104:24).
Then, however, man transgresses God's commandment and immediately faces the judgment (Gen 3:16-19; 23). Yahweh imposes on the first parents a comprehensive diminishment of their existence: pain, toil, oppression, failure, expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the shadow of death. Man's relationship with God is destroyed to such an extent that creation as a whole perishes.
Talmudic rabbis and Apocrypha later underline this corruption of nature as a result of sin. So it says in the “Book of Jubilees” (2nd century B.C.) immediately after the account of the expulsion: “And on that day was closed the mouth of all beasts, and of cattle, and of birds, and of whatever walks, and of whatever moves, so that they could no longer speak … And He sent out of the Garden of Eden all flesh that was in the Garden of Eden” (3:28sq.). And the “4th Book of Ezra” (100 A.D.) writes: “But when Adam transgressed my commandments, the creation was judged … Oh Adam, what have you done? When you sinned, the Fall came not only upon you, but also upon us, your descendants.”
The New Testament is also foreign to any hint of an apotheosis of the cosmos. Jesus preaches – for instance in the “Sermon on the Mount” – its God-related beauty. But He also knows about its transitoriness: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Mt 24:35). The eschatological goal of history is still to be achieved. Christ calls His own to live already today in the light of tomorrow.
In St. Paul, the contrast between God and the cosmos is evident; the Apostle attributes it to sin, which came into the world through the First Man (Rom 5:12). And the whole universe must be included in the history of salvation: “We know that all creation groans and is in labor pains to this day” (Rom 8:22).
The Letter to the Hebrews incorporates the Old Testament eschatology as described by the prophets with realism; it is different from the Hellenistic cosmic worship, which is undramatic and idealizing: “You, Lord, laid the foundations of the earth before time, the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will pass away, but You remain. They all age like a garment; You roll them up like a cloak and like a garment they are changed” (Heb 1:10sq.). The apocalyptic catastrophe is announced, which destroys the perishable and gives way to the permanent: “…so that the unshakable may remain” (Heb 12:27).
The strongest warning against all Gaia romanticism is given by the Evangelist St. John. For him, the cosmos even proves to be an anti-divine force. Without Christ – the light which darkness has not grasped (cf. Jn 1:5) – lies, sin and death prevail in the world and in history. They are darkness. And they are a force that determines man, that oppresses and overwhelms, confuses and covers up. Encircled by the cosmos, God's creatures are loved by it and become its property (cf. Jn 15:19); it begins to rule over them. This alien access to man comes from the “ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
No Gaia Myth
This brief biblical review is critical of any nature mysticism. Homogenous planetary religions, esotericism and shamanism line its path. The light of Revelation opposes decidedly all worship that is not directed at God. Tempted in the desert, the Lord Himself answers the devil with a quote from the Old Testament: “You shall not bow down before other gods and you shall not commit yourself to serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Deut 5:9; Mt 4:10).
Not worship of cosmic powers, but deliverance from them is the biblical message. The coming of Christ brings it about. Benedict XVI teaches it by referring to the Apostle Paul. He warns against a “false doctrine…which refers to the elementary powers of the world, not to Christ” (Col 2:8): it is not the elements of the cosmos that are “the God to whom one can pray” (Spes salvi 5).
Any form of sentimental Gaia myth – von Balthasar called it a “turning the globe into a love object” [“Amorisierung des Erdballs”] – finally becomes downright cynical in view of recent earthquakes (Albania, Philippines), in view of the volcanic eruptions and a tsunami in 2004.
“Gaia – Mother, Beloved, Nurturer”? Dreamy romantics stun us with their fantastic notions. Instead, they should observe the brutal laws decreed by “Mother Earth,” for example, in the animal world. The great Reinhold Schneider studied them in detail and recorded some of them in his notebooks Winter in Vienna (1958). Only two small sections: Whoever reads them no longer doubts that the curse of sin has marked creation.
Let us only remember the everyday, often-told story of the parasite living in the intestines of certain birds, whose eggs creep into the snails through the feces; in these the germs grow into tubes which penetrate the feelers; in the bloated feelers it develops a stimulating play of colors and similar movements; this lures the birds to tear off the feelers; in this way the parasites get back into their place. And the snail always grows antennae again and they are always torn off; the snail is only the producer of the destroyers that destroy it and the birds… (p. 191sq.)
After the nuptial flight, an ant from the Mediterranean countries enters the breeding chamber of another species, climbs up the back of the legitimate queen, slowly saws her head off with its jaws and now takes over her reign. The tiny eyeless thievish ants bite into the bodies of the host individuals in enormous quantities; hostile individuals enter into open field battles that rage undecided for days on end and are otherwise ended by rain or thunderstorms. (pp. 221sq.)
A new ecological sensitivity awakens in us an awareness of the beauty of the cosmos and rightly calls us to reverence it. Greta Thurnberg is on everyone's lips. It would be fatal, however, if we were to forget the Creator in light of creation, to bow down before the work instead of before its author. Today more than ever it is valid to say: “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20).
Translation by LifeSite's Dr. Maike Hickson