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Reflections on Creation from Church Teaching

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June 15, 2015

The beauty of the universe: the order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. the beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man's intellect and will.  

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 341

There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory: May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendor, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .

May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste.
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . .
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility (Canticle of the Creatures, St. Francis)

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 344

Respect for laws inscribed in creation and the relations which derive from the nature of things is a principle of wisdom and a foundation for morality.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 354

The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.194 Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2415

The Book of Genesis provides us with certain foundations of Christian anthropology: the inalienable dignity of the human person, the roots and guarantee of which are found in God's design of creation; the constitutive social nature of human beings, the prototype of which is found in the original relationship between man and woman, the union of whom “constitutes the first form of communion between persons”[38]; the meaning of human activity in the world, which is linked to the discovery and respect of the laws of nature that God has inscribed in the created universe, so that humanity may live in it and care for it in accordance with God's will. This vision of the human person, of society and of history is rooted in God and is ever more clearly seen when his plan of salvation becomes a reality.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 37

With this specific vocation to life, man and woman find themselves also in the presence of all the other creatures. They can and are obliged to put them at their own service and to enjoy them, but their dominion over the world requires the exercise of responsibility, it is not a freedom of arbitrary and selfish exploitation. All of creation in fact has value and is “good” (cf. Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25) in the sight of God, who is its author. Man must discover and respect its value. This is a marvelous challenge to his intellect, which should lift him up as on wings towards the contemplation of the truth of all God's creatures, that is, the contemplation of what God sees as good in them. The Book of Genesis teaches that human dominion over the world consists in naming things (cf. Gen 2:19-20). In giving things their names, man must recognize them for what they are and establish with each of them a relationship of responsibility.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 113

The common good therefore involves all members of society, no one is exempt from cooperating, according to each one's possibilities, in attaining it and developing it[352]. The common good must be served in its fullness, not according to reductionist visions that are subordinated by certain people to their advantages; own rather it is to be based on a logic that leads to the assumption of greater responsibility. The common good corresponds to the highest of human instincts[353], but it is a good that is very difficult to attain because it requires the constant ability and effort to seek the good of others as though it were one's own good.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 157

Work is part of the original state of man and precedes his fall; it is therefore not a punishment or curse. It becomes toil and pain because of the sin of Adam and Eve, who break their relationship of trust and harmony with God (cf. Gen 3:6-8). The prohibition to eat “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17) reminds man that he has received everything as a gift and that he continues to be a creature and not the Creator. It was precisely this temptation that prompted the sin of Adam and Eve: “you will be like God” (Gen 3:5). They wanted absolute dominion over all things, without having to submit to the will of the Creator. From that moment, the soil becomes miserly, unrewarding, sordidly hostile (cf. Gen 4:12); only by the sweat of one's brow will it be possible to reap its fruit (cf. Gen 3:17,19). Notwithstanding the sin of our progenitors, however, the Creator's plan, the meaning of His creatures — and among these, man, who is called to cultivate and care for creation — remain unaltered.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 256

In the era of globalization solidarity between generations must be forcefully emphasized: “Formerly, in many places, solidarity between generations was a natural family attitude; it also became a duty of the community”.[758] It is good that such solidarity continue to be pursued within national political communities, but today the problem exists also for the global political community, in order that globalization will not occur at the expense of the neediest and the weakest. Solidarity between generations requires that global planning take place according to the principle of the universal destination of goods, which makes it morally illicit and economically counterproductive to burden future generations with the costs involved: morally illicit because it would mean avoiding one's own responsibilities; economically counterproductive because correcting failures is more expensive than preventing them. This principle is to be applied above all — although not only — to the earth's resources and to safeguarding creation, the latter of which becomes a particularly delicate issue because of globalization, involving as it does the entire planet understood as a single ecosystem.

Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 367