This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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A long-standing concern

“Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.” So writes Pope Francis in Laudato Si’. And he is not alone. In 1971, Paul VI said: “Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature, humanity runs the risk, of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation.” Following this same line of thought, Benedict XVI wrote that:

“The relationship between individuals or communities and the environment ultimately stems from their relationship with God. When man turns his back on the Creator’s plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order.”[1]

As we will see in what follows, man has a distinct responsibility to minister to God’s creation in its entirety. This is particularly important at this time, considering the response Pope Francis has received when speaking on this subject. For example, some writers seem to suggest (as is common among persons who’ve never taken the time to read the encyclicals themselves), that Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ represents some new venture on the part of the Church—a departure from its customary range of subject matter.

On the contrary, the Catechism states that “creation comes forth from God’s goodness, it shares in that goodness…for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him.”[2] Through creation we find life, realize our potentialities, come into relationships with one another, and, through its contemplation, are directed toward God.[3]

In order to drive home the continuity between past popes and Francis, we will pause on his immediate predecessor, who repeatedly emphasized the Church’s concern for the environment. To take only a sample of the former pontiff’s many statements on this point:

“Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family.”[4]

“The order of creation demands that a priority be given to those human activities that do not cause irreversible damage to nature, but which instead are woven into the social, cultural, and religious fabric of the different communities. In this way, a sober balance is achieved between consumption and the sustainability of resources.”[5]

“The ecological crisis offers a historic opportunity to develop a common plan of action aimed at orienting the model of global development toward greater respect for creation and for an integral human development inspired by the values proper to charity in truth.”[6]

“We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries. In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity it is important for everyone to be committed at his or her proper level, working to overcome the prevalence of particular interests.”[7]

“The deterioration of nature is… closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when ‘human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits.” “The Earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator who, in designing its intrinsic order, has given us bearings that guide us as stewards of his creation. Precisely from within this framework, the Church considers matters concerning the environment and its protection intimately linked to the theme of integral human development.”[8]

If we seem to be over-emphasizing the point, it is only because this issue has been ill-received by certain circles, so much so that it warrants a thoroughly prepared defense on the part of the faithful. The curious reader will have no problem multiplying these references by searching through the many documents provided by the Vatican online.

[1] Letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on the Occasion of the Seventh Symposium of the Religion, Science and the Environment Movement, September 1, 2007.

[2] CCC, 299.

[3] CCC, 287-307.

[4] Letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople on the Occasion of the Seventh Symposium of the Religion, Science and the Environment Movement, September 1, 2007.

[5] Message to the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization for the Celebration of World Food Day, October 16, 2006.

[6] Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2010.

[7] Ibid.

[8] General Audience, August 26, 2009.

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