The primacy of the human is based on our belief in the transcendent. All aspects of the human person –politics, philosophy, ethics, economics and medicine– are rooted in the respect of and in engagement with the Divine. Catholics will further develop this idea of the transcendent by reflecting on the Trinity of the Godhead, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. A personal God who lives and is active in history. The pope addressed the new ambassadors of Moldova, Equatorial Guinea, Belize, Syria, Ghana and New Zealand on 9 June when they presented their diplomatic credentials to the Holy See. Ordinarily, one doesn’t pay lots of attention to papal discourses made to the diplomats but it seems that there is some serious thinking going on here with the Pope viz. this sector of his ministry.
In other speeches since becoming the Supreme Pontiff, Benedict has used the term of “human ecology” in terms of the relationship humanity has with itself but also with the Creator and the rest of creation. On February 16, when meeting with the Brazilian bishops in light of the their lenten campaign which centered on fraternity and man’s relationship with the environment, the Pope spoke of creation groaning viz man’s pride and that human ecology is a priority. Benedict said,
“…man is not God, but his image, that is why he must try to be more sensitive to the presence of God in what surrounds him: in all creatures and, especially, in the human person in whom there is a certain epiphany of God…. [there needs to be a] full sense of life … [without which man will have] contempt for himself and for what surrounds him. That is why the first ecology that must be defended is ‘human ecology.’ That is, without a clear defense of human life, from its conception to its natural death, without a defense of the family based on marriage between man and a woman, without a real defense of those who are excluded and marginalized by society, without forgetting in this context those who lose everything, victims of natural disasters, there can never be talk of a genuine defense of the environment…. [There is] an imperative that stems from the awareness that God entrusts his creation to man, not so that he can exercise over it an arbitrary dominion, but to preserve and care for it, as a son takes care of father’s inheritance.”
On this occasion with the diplomats, Benedict recalled the fact of natural and humanmade disasters, and said, “Human ecology is an imperative. Adopting a lifestyle that respects our environment and supports research and use of clean energies that preserve the patrimony of creation and that are safe for human beings should be given political and economic priority.”
Further, the Pope stated, “It is good to remember that before all else, the person comes first. Humanity, to whom God has entrusted the stewardship of nature, cannot be dominated by technology and become its subject. This awareness should lead states to reflect together on the short-term future of the planet, given their responsibilities with regard to our lives and technology. Human ecology is an imperative. [Nature] … is rather, the place where man was born; his ‘home,’ so to speak. It is essential for us. A change in mentality in this realm, even with the contradictions it entails, must make it possible to quickly arrive at a global lifestyle that respects the covenant between humanity and nature, without which the human family risks disappearing.”
Offering a word of caution in the face of technology, papal thoughts turned this listeners’ attention when Benedict said, “To bet on [technology] unreservedly or to believe it is the exclusive agent of progress or happiness, entails a reification of humanity that leads to blindness and misery when he himself attributes and delegates to its powers it does not have. It is enough to see the ‘ravages’ of progress and the dangers that an all-powerful and ultimately uncontrolled technology poses to humanity. Technology should help nature develop along the lines envisioned by the Creator.”
So, what’s our plan to develop a human ecology along the lines that Pope Benedict speaks?
H2O News has a video clip
on the event with the Pope and the new ambassadors.