The cardinal invited his audience to reconsider the way they see the created world. He stressed the importance of understanding our world as a cosmos, or ordered system, that derives its order from the Word of God, which puts everything in its place.
"When this order prevails, there is beauty," he noted, but when this order is ignored, chaos ensues.
Justice demands that we work to preserve the order that God put in place, Cardinal Turkson said. He explained that this concept is deeply connected to the relationships that we maintain.
"All of our social lives are bound up in a network of relationships," he observed, pointing to the examples of marriage, parenthood and friendship.
The same sense of justice that guides our relationship with God and our relationship with other people must guide our relationship with the created world, he stated.
"Justice is respecting the demands of the relationships in which we stand," the cardinal emphasized, and this includes our relationship with the environment.
We live our lives in relationships, and it is there that we find guidance in interacting with the created world, he said, adding that the solution to many environmental problems, like other challenges faced by humanity, is a fundamental and authentic "conversion of heart."
Michelle La Rosa is deputy editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency. She has worked for CNA since 2011. She studied political philosophy and journalism at the University of Dallas.