“The tragic irony is that such a culture, which imagines the product of man as the supreme, saving and definitive instance, then inexorably ends up destroying man and his environment.”
In his lecture, the archbishop encouraged Catholics to commit themselves to “a constructive dialogue” with advocates of a Green New Deal, saying that a Christian perspective would introduce “precious added value” into the discussion.
To illustrate this, he quoted Pope Francis: “Freeing others from their slavery certainly implies taking care of the environment and protecting it, but even more helping the human heart to open itself with trust to that God who not only created everything that exists but also gave us given himself in Jesus Christ. The Lord, who first takes care of us, teaches us to take care of our brothers and sisters and of the environment that he gives us every day.”
The Vatican official said that “the defense and care of culture” were fundamental to the search for the human good.
“I consider it useful to point out a risk present in today’s political dialectic: the most critical of the logic of profit unwittingly end up supporting it, while its defenders delude themselves that it can preserve those good values to which they declare themselves linked,” he said.
Gallagher pointed out that the term “Green New Deal” today is used by political bodies on different continents to refer to different policy proposals. There was the first proposal in the United States House of Representatives in 2019 by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was rejected. But the United Nations also promotes a Global Green New Deal and the European Union uses the term European Green Deal.
He noted that U.S. President Joe Biden did not support Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal in all its points during his electoral campaign, but promised to “undertake new environmental policies, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, invest in renewable energy, improve the state of national construction, and promote the spread of electric cars.”
“For its importance and for its purposes, the Green New Deal is for us a subject worthy of the utmost attention, and it is good to think of it not as a proposal with defined and assessable contents, but as a framework idea within which we can recognize distinct units between them, today and tomorrow, and which therefore will require the rigor of specific assessments,” Gallagher said.
“Nonetheless, the main Green New Deals currently under development tend to represent on the one hand the hope of a historic turning point for the future of the world and on the other an insistence on certain issues that seem to restrict rather than broaden ecological reflection, at the risk of giving it a uniform and aligned look of environmentalism.”
Gallagher noted that the Church, on the other hand, sees that “nature has its own sacredness that needs protection and respect” and that “the norm of the relationship between man and nature is therefore not the pursuit of the useful, but the search for the common good through the reasons of faith.”
“What is commonly called ‘nature’ is creation for us Christians, the work of God which bears within itself the signs of transcendence and reveals the glory of its creator: as Psalm 19 reminds us, in verse 2, ‘I heavens tell the glory of God and the work of his hands announces the firmament,’” he said.
He argued that “the environment that surrounds us must not be reduced to a place to generate profits, an alternative resource to seek new forms of investment, or a commercial opportunity to increase profits.”
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“In fact, nature is a common good that cannot become the prerogative of private companies, nor can it be managed as a state property entrusted exclusively to the action of governments. It is therefore important to think of new economic models that safeguard the environment and guarantee the dignity of every human person,” he said.