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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, October 17, 2016
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Rock and Refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

Rock & Refuge

Stewards of God's creation

This might be too big or too abstract an issue for a newspaper column to tackle, but I think it is worthwhile to bring it out if only to remind ourselves of our responsibility as stewards of God's creation whose integrity we have to uphold, enhance and defend.

The world today is developing very fast, and we just have to get a handle on these developments that clearly are not all that right. There are many questionable things taking place, like the issue of climate change etc. That's why we now have a graver concern over how we are taking care of our environment, with Pope Francis, for example, issuing an encyclical on it entitled, ‘Laudatosi.'

As God's image and likeness and redeemed children of his through Christ, we are tasked to take care of God's creation. “Be fruitful and increase in number. Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Gen 1,28) That was God's clear mandate to our first parents. It continues to be ours too, till the end of time.

The world has been given to us by God as the place for us to do our life's test of whether to love him in return or not. As such, it comes to us with a certain order, direction and unity. It comes to us with laws that we try to discover and follow.

As the masterpiece of that creation, we are made its stewards who have to take care of it, always with the mind of God and never just with our own ideas. That's why we need to always be in God's presence, asking for his guidance. We can never overemphasize our need for prayer, for studying the doctrine of our faith, so we can discern God's will and ways as we go through our earthly affairs.

Offhand, the catechism tells us some basic indications of how we can respect the integrity of creation. “Animals, like plants and inanimate beings,” it says, “are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives.” (CCC 2415)

It continues by saying that “man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the equality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrityof creation.”

In following these indications with prudence, I imagine that aside from prayer and study, a lot of consultation among concerned parties should be done. This is especially so when dealingwith legitimate interests and values that compete and collide against each other.

Let's hope that we develop the appropriate attitudes, skills and structures to put these ideals into practice. Leaders from various sectors —church, politics, business, culture, etc. — should come together to develop this greater sensitivity toward our duty torespect the integrity of creation.

St. John Paul II once remarked: “It is the Creator's will that humans should treat nature not as a ruthless exploiter, but as an intelligent and responsible administrator.” We need to have a clear idea of what would comprise keeping and enhancing the integrity ofGod's creation and what would harm it.

In this regard, the Church is offering her social doctrine to give some guidance. “The Church receives from the Gospel the full revelation of the truth about man. When she fulfills her mission of proclaiming the Gospel, she bears witness to man, in the name of Christ, to his dignity and his vocation to the communion of persons.She teaches him the demands of justice and peace in conformity with divine wisdom.” (CCC 2419)

It is important that the voice of the Church be heard and considered with utmost respect. While human ideologies will always have something valid to offer, it is our God-given faith that at the end of the day contains all the truth about how we have to carry out our duty toward the integrity of creation.

It is our God-given faith that puts everything in order, in unity and with proper direction. It covers all the needs of man and provides the resources for any eventualities that can take place in our earthly affairs, including our mistakes.

This God-given faith, together with its necessary complement of hope and charity, should serve as the spirit behind all our temporal affairs that would need all the helpful contributions of our sciences and technologies.*

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