Patrick Craine

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Canadian bishops: To protect environment we must first defend human life from conception

Patrick Craine

OTTAWA, April 10, 2013 ( - The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops are calling for action to protect the environment in a new pastoral letter, in which they emphasize that the most pressing need for the environmental movement is to protect the right to life.

The pastoral letter, entitled ‘Building a New Culture: Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment’, was published on Monday by the Canadian bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace.

It focuses on eight key themes in recent papal teaching on the environment by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, with brief introductions for each theme followed by quotes from the popes.

In contrast to a tendency among radicals in the environmental movement to focus on ‘the environment’ apart from humans, or to put humans on a level with other creatures, the bishops stress that “human beings are part of the natural world, yet simultaneously transcend it.”

Taking up one of the central themes of Pope Benedict’s teaching on the environment, the bishops stress that “maintaining a proper ecology of our natural environment is only possible when we foster a truly ‘human ecology.’”

“Central to this human ecology is the right to life of every human being, from conception to natural death,” they add.

They then quote Pope Benedict’s assertion that ‘human ecology’ demands both the protection of human life from conception as well as the defense of true marriage.

“The first ecology to be defended is ‘human ecology’,” he said. “This is to say that, without a clear defense of human life from conception until natural death; without a defense of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman; without an authentic defense of those excluded and marginalized by society, not overlooking, in this context, those who have lost everything in natural calamities, we will never be able to speak of authentic protection of the environment.”

Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon, a member of the Commission for Justice and Peace, indicated that the commission hoped to show the links between the various moral issues, including the connection between the environment and life issues.

"Having an overarching vision of God's purpose in creation and the rightful place of human beings in creation allows us to see the interconnectedness between different moral questions," he told Canadian Catholic News’ Deborah Gyapong.

He said that that “overarching vision” includes "serving the dignity of human life at all stages and working toward the common good."

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops full pastoral letter can be found at the CCCB website.

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