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16.12.2020 02:57:55 401x read.
Care for Our Common Home (Bro. Augustine Kubdaar).

Care for Our Common Home

After my maiden participation in the recent Union of Superiors General (USG) meeting in Rome, I wish to humbly call for our sober reflection on the topic: “Care for our common home”. This was one of the topical issues we reflected upon during the meeting. This reflection is also in accordance with the 2018 General Chapter resolution 28B “Care of our environment”. I pray and hope this reflection will touch the inner core of each one of us and move us to care and respect the environment where each one of us lives.

Pope Francis offers a theological vision of the natural world. He says creation is seen as good news - a gospel - an expression of God’s infinite love for every creature. In the Bible, “we see how envy led Cain to commit the ultimate injustice against his brother, which in turn ruptured the relationship between Cain and God, and between Cain and the earth from which he was banished (Gen 4:9-11)”. Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbor, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth (Laudato Si, 2018). Everything is interconnected, and therefore genuine care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice, and faithfulness to others.

The Crisis of our common home is the sign of our deeper inner malaise. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Laudato Si, 2018).

Human existence and its historical reality are grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. According to Pope Francis, it is only within a relational view of reality where everything is interrelated and interdependent, that the concept of Ecological sin makes sense. Nothing in creation exists in isolation. There exist a physical and spiritual connectedness between all of creation. Sin is precisely the distortion of this underlying and all-embracing relational unity. There is an ecological rupture of relationship with our fellow human beings when we pollute land, water and atmosphere and endanger the health of fellow citizens. We are also sinning against future generations by leaving them with a polluted land, water, and atmosphere, a planet scarce in natural resources as we already consumed them at a totally unsustainable rate.

We cannot doubt the fact that the natural environment is a collective good, a collective home, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of every one of us. “The notion of the common good also extends to future generations. The global economic crises have made painfully obvious the detrimental effects of disregarding our common destiny, which cannot exclude those who come after us. We can no longer speak of sustainable development apart from intergenerational solidarity” (LS 156). When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered. We see this in the story of Noah, where God threatens to do away with humanity because of its constant failure to fulfill the requirements of justice and peace: “I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence through them” (Gen 6:13)”. LS 70

The Patriarch Bartholomew has spoken in particular of the need for each of us to repent of the ways we have harmed the planet, for “inasmuch as we all generate small ecological damage”, we are called to acknowledge our contribution, smaller or greater, to the disfigurement and destruction of creation.

In Anthropocentrism, everything culminates in the human being, nothing has intrinsic value, and nothing has otherness and meaning apart from the human being, said Pope Francis. All beings are at the disposal of human beings, to serve as their property and under their control, so that humans may attain their desires and projects. Human beings feel that they are above things rather than alongside and with things” (Laudato Si, 2018; Jon H, 2018).

We live in a world dominated by a culture of self-centered instant gratification. The abuse of creation begins when human beings arbitrarily posit themselves at the center. We have forgotten that man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature” (1Cor, 15:44). Perhaps there is no better time than NOW to start discussions in our provinces and communities on how to foster greater awareness and the care of our environment”. I take this opportunity to salute Bro. Martin Dariyo in Malawi Province, whose initiative of tree planting stand tall for all of us to emulate.

This reflection is enough food for thought for us now. In the next issue of the IGC, I will continue to share my experience at the USG on the topic “Safeguard of minors from sexual abuse”; a topical issue which also caught the attention of the USG.

Bro. Augustine Kubdaar

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