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The Pope’s Encyclical


Here’s what will be in the Pope’s encyclical on the environment, if it is on the environment. We were created to exercise care for the creation, to cultivate it and hold dominion, i.e., make the proper decisions for its use and development. Humans are the summit of creation. We were given a mandate to multiply and fill the earth. That mandate continues.

Humanae Vitae has a section called “responsible parenthood.” The phrase is used roughly 9 times. Children are not the problem. Distribution of resources is. We cannot permit an ideology of contraception and abortion to intellectually colonize the third world. Abortion and contraception are no more acts of responsibility than letting one’s sexual impulses govern your relationship with your spouse.

In Christ, that original creation dominion mandate is restored and enhanced. The dominion mandate and the gospel mandate work in tandem. The Gospel is to be preached, according to Mark, to the whole of creation. Human beings who have dominion over creation must be born again through baptism and faith in Christ. This enables them to exercise proper stewardship on the earth. We will refrain from worshipping Gaia. We will refrain from raping our sister, the earth.

Dominion, however, is not domination. It means cultivation and development. We began with the earth as a Garden and we will end in a city, the heavenly Jerusalem, not New York or London or Tokyo. Along the way, there is plenty of blame to go around for abuse of our responsibilities but Jesus came to forgive all the sons and daughters of Adam. Rejoice. God didn’t give us responsibility for creation so that we would fail. Romans 8 teaches that the whole creation is in groaning and travailing until the sons of God are revealed. Christ reveals those sons and daughters of God and the entire creation will rejoice.

It will not focus on scientific issues because that is not a Pope’s competence. It will be about faith and morals.

Robert Royal gives us advice on the coming papal encyclical which is about…no one seems to know exactly.

I’ve also included a summary of Woodene Koenig-Bricker, author of Ten Commandments for the Environment: Pope Benedict XVI speaks out for Creation and Justice.

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