16 April 2018, The Tablet

Cardinals warn of environmental costs of individualism

In February, Cardinal John Ribat of Papua New Guinea visited the US to share stories of the costs of rising sea levels

Cardinals warn of environmental costs of individualism

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin has warned bishops in the South Pacific about the cost of an ideology of individualism to humanity and the environment.

Cardinal Parolin attended the four-yearly Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania in the Papua New Guinea capital, Port Moresby, with about 75 bishops from Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and other Pacific countries.

The gathering, from 11-17 April, met on the theme "Care of our Common Home of Oceania: A sea of possibilities" and discussed human displacement, social unrest, climate change and harmful environmental practices such as deep-sea bed mining and over-fishing.

Cardinal Parolin gave the keynote address on Pope Francis' encyclical, Laudato Si', emphasising the obligations of human beings to each other and to the environment.

He said ideology "has a great impact on our approach to questions of ecology and the environment" and noted that the Pope had warned that the ideology of individualism could lead to damaging consequences.

“Everything is intimately connected; therefore, we must strengthen our ability to listen to nature,” the Cardinal said.

Port Moresby's Post-Courier newspaper reported on 16 April that Cardinal Parolin had urged leaders of church and state to use Christian principles to form and guide policies and legislative proposals.

At a dinner organised by the Catholic Professionals Society of PNG, the paper reported Cardinal Parolin as saying: "The Constitution of PNG... speaks of a nation as being under the guiding hand of God. It is an eloquent reminder to all of us that Christian principles can inform and guide policies and legislative proposals because I am confident that such guiding principles can stimulate honest and truthful discussions on important issues that confront the country in (these) times such as the death penalty, violence, sorcery-related killings, good governance, the rule of law, the use of natural resources, accountability and transparency, the management and the governance of the nation.”

He said the push for economic development "must always be balanced and sustainable to the benefit of both the present and future generations”.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said his country was considering to having a resident ambassador in the Holy See.

Last month, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury joined a meeting in Fiji of Anglican bishops from Oceania, who committed themselves to work together to be "climate champions".

The Anglican gathering included a service of Holy Communion on a sandbar that was once an island in Suva Harbour to demonstrate the effect of climate change on low-lying Pacific nations.


Pic: Cardinal John Ribat, Archbishop of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington. During a four-day U.S. visit the cardinal shared stories of the challenges posed by rising sea levels and undersea mining to thousands of people in his country. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

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