Save the wider biological world

From Oct 6-27, the Vatican will host the special Synod of Bishops for the Amazon that will give special Church focus on one of the planet’s major biomes — and the threats facing the region and its indigenous peoples — recently spotlighted to global attention through devastating wildfires burning in parts of the vast rainforest.

Sep 06, 2019

By Brian Roewe
From Oct 6-27, the Vatican will host the special Synod of Bishops for the Amazon that will give special Church focus on one of the planet’s major biomes — and the threats facing the region and its indigenous peoples — recently spotlighted to global attention through devastating wildfires burning in parts of the vast rainforest.

A landmark United Nations report released in May found that the rate of species extinction has accelerated at “unprecedented” rates and that up to 1 million species are threatened with extinction, many within decades. The report also stated that marine pollution “has increased tenfold since 1980” and half of the globe’s agricultural expansion has occurred at the expense of forests.

In a recent interview, Francis called the loss of biodiversity among his greatest fears for the planet, saying “devastation of nature can lead to the death of humanity.”

For Christians, a concern about the state of the planet’s biodiversity stems from the belief that the world is God’s creation, and that God is reflected in it, said Celine Deane-Drummond, a theologian and biologist and newly appointed director of the Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall at the University of Oxford. The institute is expected to launch next year. “The mirror of who God is, is somehow reflected in the world around us and in the biodiversity around us. So if we start and we get involved in ecological and biodiversity destruction, we are in some sense defacing that mirror of God that we see in the world,” she said.

But rather than despair at reports on biodiversity loss, Deane- Drummond said Christians should find ways to become involved in ecological restoration “to help repair that damage” and, with it, contribute to the redemption found in Jesus, “who came not just to save humanity, but to save the wider biological world as well.”

Deane-Drummond is set to participate in a webinar Sept 16 examining the connection between Christian spirituality and biodiversity. Other programs and events also centre on the Amazon synod and the biodiversity theme, including the Catholic Climate Covenant’s annual Feast of St Francis programme titled We Are All Connected: Cry of the Earth, Cry of the Poor.-- NCR

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