The Catholic Social Teaching principle of stewardship of God’s creation generates a special responsibility in our use of material things: the production, transport, sale and disposal of goods must be respectful of ecological systems and all that depends on those systems. This is also a requirement for our own survival: we simply cannot live without clean air, clean water and a healthy environment. Our earthly resources are limited; we need to use them in a way that allows regeneration (replacing resources when possible, like growing new trees) and sustainability (using resources prudently so that they will last as long as possible).
Lack of attention to any part of the ecosystem will cause harm to other elements of creation. We are called to respect the earth because it is a deliberate and magnificent part of God’s creation. Monetary cost, convenience and industrial expansion are all inadequate justifications for ecological negligence. It is a presupposition of our faith that to believe in God is to affirm and act on behalf of the dignity of all of God’s creation.
NETWORK believes that government investment in transportation, construction (residential and business) and infrastructure development should “go green.” This type of investment would not only help our environment but could also benefit the economy as a form of job creation. Among other things, we need rehabilitating/retrofitting of public housing and public buildings so they will become energy-efficient. Our government should also support a Gulf Coast recovery program that restores wetlands and increases forestation.
NETWORK intends to pursue ecological justice by supporting environmentally-conscious transportation (shifting from oil-based to “green” alternatives), construction, and infrastructure development. We are also active with the Faith, Economy, Ecology (FEE) working group.
“The tradition of Catholic social teaching offers a developing and distinctive perspective on environmental issues. We believe that the following themes drawn from this tradition are integral dimensions of ecological responsibility:
a God-centered and sacramental view of the universe, which grounds human accountability for the fate of the earth;
a consistent respect for human life, which extends to respect for all creation;
a worldview affirming the ethical significance of global interdependence and the common good;
an ethics of solidarity promoting cooperation and a just structure of sharing in the world community;
an understanding of the universal purpose of created things, which requires equitable use of the earth's resources;
an option for [those who are] poor, which gives passion to the quest for an equitable and sustainable world;
a conception of authentic development, which offers a direction for progress that respects human dignity and the limits of material growth.”
-- U.S. Catholic Bishops, An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching