The Pope Takes Questions, Part IV

From the August 6th Q&A (in the video you can see the Pope laughs at the beginning of his answer --you could answer better than I):

Fourth Question: Fr. Karl Golser

Holy Father! My name is Karl Golser, and I am a professor of moral theology here at Bressanone and also the director of the Institute of Justice, Peace and Care of Creation; I’m also a canon. I recall with pleasure the period in which I was able to work with you at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
As you know, the Catholic Church has forged profoundly the history and the culture of our country. Today, however, at times we have the sensation that, as church, we are a bit withdrawn into the sacristy. The declarations of the pontifical magisterium on the great social questions don’t find the proper echo at the level of parishes and ecclesial communities.
Here, for example, in Alto Adige, local authorities and many associations are strongly calling attention to environmental problems, particularly climate change. The principal arguments are the melting of the icecaps, landslides in the mountains, the problems of the cost of energy, traffic and atmospheric pollution. There are many initiatives in favor of environmental protection.
In the average understanding of our Christians, however, all this has little to do with the faith. What can we do to bring a deeper sense of responsibility with regard to creation into the life of our Christian communities? How can we more and more come to see Creation and Redemption together? How can we live, in an exemplary way, a Christian lifestyle that will be sustainable? And how can we unite that lifestyle to a quality of life that will be attractive for the people of our land?

Benedict XVI

Thanks very much, dear Professor Golser. Certainly you could respond much better than me to these questions, but I’ll try to say something anyway.
You’ve touched the theme of the relationship between Creation and Redemption, and I think that the indissolvable bond between them should receive new emphasis. In recent decades, the doctrine of Creation almost disappeared in theology, it was almost imperceptible. Now we can see the damages that resulted. The Redeemer is the Creator, and if we don’t proclaim God in all his total greatness – as Creator and Redeemer – we subtract value also from the Redemption. In fact, if God has nothing to say about Creation, is he is relegated simply into an ambit of history, how can all of our life truly be understood? How could he truly bring salvation for humanity in its entirety and for the world in its totality? That’s why for me, renewal of the doctrine of Creation, and a new understanding of the indissolvability of the bond between Creation and Redemption, takes on such great importance. We have to recognize anew: He is the Creator Spiritus, the Reason from whom in the beginning everything is born, and of which our reason is nothing but a scintilla. It is him, the Creator himself, who entered into history and can still enter into history and act in it, because He is the God of everything together and not just of one part. If we recognize this, obviously what follows is that the Redemption, what it means to be Christian, and simply the Christian faith in itself, always signify responsibility with regard to Creation.
Twenty or thirty years ago Christians were accused – I don’t know if this accusation is still sustained – of being the true parties responsible for the destruction of Creation, because the term contained in Genesis – ‘subjugate the earth’ – has produced an arrogance with regard to creation of which we are today experiencing the consequences. I think that we must newly learn to see this accusation in all its falsity: to the extent that the earth was considered God’s creation, the duty of “subjecting” it was never understood as an order to make it a slave, but rather as a duty of being a custodian of creation and developing its gifts; of collaborating ourselves in an active way in God’s work, in the evolution that God placed in the world, so that the gifts of creation are prized and not trampled upon or destroyed.
If we observe what was born around monasteries, how in those places little paradises were born and continue to be born, oases of creation, it’s obvious that all this isn’t simply words. Where the Word of the Creator was understood in the correct manner, where there was life with the Creator-Redeemer, in those places there was a commitment to protection creation and not to destroy it. Chapter 8 of the Letter to the Romans is relevant here, where it’s said that creation suffers and groans for the state of submission in which it finds itself, and awaits the revelation of the children of God: it will feel itself liberated when those creatures come who are children of God and who treat it from God’s point of view. I believe that this is precisely the reality we see today: Creation is groaning – we can sense it, we can almost hear it – and it is waiting for human beings who see it through God’s eyes. The brutal consumption of creation begins where God is missing, where matter has become simply matter for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate measure, where everything is simply our property and we consume it only for ourselves. The waste of creation begins where we no longer recognize any claim beyond ourselves, seeing only ourselves; it begins where there is no longer any dimension of life beyond death, where in this life we have to grab everything and take hold of life with the maximum intensity possible, where we have to possess everything it’s possible to possess. I believe, therefore, that true and effective measures against the waste and destruction of creation can only be realized and developed, understood and lived, when creation is considered from the point of view of God; when life is considered on the basis of God and has its major dimensions in responsibility before God; life that one day will be given by God in its fullness and never taken away. Giving life, we receive it.
Thus, I believe, we must attempt with all the means we have to present the faith in public, especially where there’s already a sensibility for it. I think the sensation many people have today that the world may be slipping away – because we ourselves are driving it away – and the sense of being oppressed by the problems of creation gives us a fitting occasion in which our faith can speak publicly and can present itself as a positive proposition. In fact, it’s not just a question of finding techniques that can prevent environmental harms, even if it’s important to find alternative sources of energy and so on. But all this won’t be enough if we ourselves don’t find a new style of life, a discipline which is made up in part of renunciations: a discipline of recognition of others, to whom creation belongs just as much as those of us who can make use of it more easily; a discipline of responsibility to the future for others and for ourselves. It’s a question of responsibility before He who is our Judge, and as Judge our Redeemer, but nonetheless our Judge.
Therefore I think it’s essential to hold together the two dimensions – Creation and Redemption, earthly life and eternal life, responsibility for creation and responsibility for others and for the future – and that it’s our duty to intervene in a clear and decisive manner in public opinion. In order to be heard, we must at the same time demonstrate with our example, with our own style of life, that we are speaking of a message in which we ourselves believe, one by which it’s possible to live. We want to ask the Lord to help us all live the faith, the responsibility of the faith, in such a way that our style of life becomes a form of witness, and that our words express the faith in a credible way as an orientation in our time.