Amy Esser writes:

In recent years the noise around environmental sustainability has increased, and society mostly now acknowledges its part in damaging the planet. Despite this, we are not yet seeing significant changes in behaviour to reverse the damage and help preserve our planet for the future.

Sadly it seems that even the prospect of environmental Armageddon is not enough to prompt real action or even divert our moral compasses. If we as individuals are lacking motivation and desire to make the changes ourselves then who needs to take the lead? Perhaps sensing that faith could make a difference, the Vatican announced earlier this month that environmental pollution and damage is a modern day sin.

Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary, said – in language that was largely misunderstood in the (non-Catholic) English media – that priests must take account of “new sins which have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation”. Whereas sin in the past was thought of as being an individual matter, it now has “social resonance”.

Bishop Girotti told L’Osservatore Romano,

“You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbour’s wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos”.

The effect of this interpretation will take time to manifest itself. Perhaps it is more interesting to see the re-emergence of old authorities in response to more turbulent times.

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