Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Jul 30, 2013 / 11:18 am
Respect for the environment is a matter of justice, connected to respect for human life and founded upon our relationship with God and his creation, said Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana.
“The concern for the earth must go in tandem – side-by-side – with concern for human life itself,” he said.
The cardinal, who heads the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke last week to a group of pilgrims at World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He delivered the keynote address at a conference hosted by Creatio, a group that seeks to address environmental problems by promoting reconciliation between humans and creation.
“I think it's very providential that we're gathered here in Rio,” he said, noting that the city has hosted prominent United Nations environmental meetings, dealing with sustainability and solidarity with past and future generations.
Cardinal Turkson discussed environmental issues in the context of Catholic social teaching. While it is sometimes said that the Church's social teaching began with Pope Leo XIII, the cardinal rejected this claim, explaining instead that Pope Leo formalized principles that had always been in place.
“Biblical faith always has a social component,” he said, pointing to Old Testament passages directing the people of God to show concern for the social order.
The Popes of the last century have been clear and consistent in reaffirming this teaching for a modern audience, he stated.