Without people, who would appreciate trees?

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Well, that’s not exactly how he said it. But Pope Benedict XVI’s message for World Day of Peace this year must have certainly grabbed the attention of the most ardent ecologist, environmentalists and naturalists. Which was the idea…

Here’s how CNN reported it:

“In his address, called “If You Want to Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation,” the pope said peace with the natural environment is the beginning of peace with all of God’s creation, including people.”

Again, not exactly. The pope is not putting people in there as an add-on to the benefits of respecting the environment. He said when ‘human ecology’ is respected in society, environmental ecology also benefits. “Our duties towards the environment flow from our duties toward the person,” he said.

What the media aren’t plucking from this message is the centrality of human beings to creation.

“In the name of a supposedly egalitarian vision of the “dignity” of all living creatures, such notions end up abolishing the distinctiveness and superior role of human beings. They also open the way to a new pantheism tinged with neo-paganism, which would see the source of man’s salvation in nature alone, understood in purely naturalistic terms. The Church, for her part, is concerned that the question be approached in a balanced way, with respect for the “grammar” which the Creator has inscribed in his handiwork by giving man the role of a steward and administrator with responsibility over creation, a role which man must certainly not abuse, but also one which he may not abdicate. In the same way, the opposite position, which would absolutize technology and human power, results in a grave assault not only on nature, but also on human dignity itself.”


“May this be clear to world leaders and to those at every level who are concerned for the future of humanity…”

2 thoughts on “Without people, who would appreciate trees?

  1. Why must trees — anything, for that matter — be appreciated in the first place? Would a tree’s life be less fulfilling if there were no people to appreciate it? I think not.

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