“Christians. . . have a specific role to play in proclaiming moral values and in educating people in ecological awareness, which is none other than responsibility towards self, towards others, towards Creation.” St. John Paul II and Patriarch Bartholomew I, June 6, 2002
“We need a decisive ‘yes’ to care for creation and a strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making a situation of decay irreversible.” Pope Benedict, September 3, 2007
“Creation is not some possession that we can lord over for our own pleasure; nor, even less, is it the property of only some people, the few: creation is a gift, it is the marvelous gift that God has given us, so that we will take care of it and harness it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude.” Pope Francis, May 21, 2014
Aside from the self-preservation and social justice reasons for becoming better environmental stewards, we must do so because God created our universe and planet and made humans the stewards of His Creation. A steward is someone entrusted by the true owner to watch over, responsibly manage, and care for the owner’s property. While we may utilize the natural resources to accomplish this, they and the planet are not ours to destroy. Additionally, the world has intrinsic value in and of itself as a creation of God and all creation is redeemed by Christ, as we are (see Romans 8).
From the very beginning, scripture emphasizes that God was pleased with his creation and that it was beautiful and good (see Genesis). “If God sees creation as good, as a beautiful thing, then we too must take this attitude and see that creation is a good and beautiful thing. . . [T]herefore we praise God, giving thanks to him for having granted us so much beauty. . . The gift of knowledge sets us in profound harmony with the Creator and allows us to participate in the clarity of his vision and his judgement.” (Pope Francis, General Audience of May 21, 2014). Both scripture and the Catechism teach us we can better recognize and know the Giver of this incredible gift of the world by observing its goodness and beauty.