The importance of the human person to the development or preservation of the earth cannot be controverted, hence discussions on environmental ecology cannot be complete without adequate consideration of the role and the contributions of the human person. This submission was posited by the Catholic Bishop of Oyo Diocese, Most Rev. Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, in a presentation at a recent Seminar organized for the delegates of the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE) and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) in Fatima, Portugal.
Speaking on the title: Human Ecology and New Ideologies, Bishop Badejo noted that the term human ecology, was a coinage of Pope St John Paul II in his Encyclical Centesimus Annus and further expatiated by Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict VXI in two other encyclicals. The three Catholic Pontiffs, emphasized the paramount importance of humanity to environmental ecology noting that the later “must be premised on and understood within the context of human ecology”; the lecturer stated.
The Bishop of Oyo Diocese spoke extensively on: the evolution of human ecology as enunciated by the Popes; the position of the Church in Africa; Pro-life and family initiatives; the case of new ideologies as they mitigate against the family institution and the challenges of terrorism. The lecturer in conclusion proffered solutions for the challenges facing the family and humanity within the context of the environment.
Bishop Badejo noted that the Encyclicals of Popes St John Paul II, Pope Emeritus XVI and Pope Francis, which represent the position of the Church emphasize that human ecology which has the family as its bedrock, is very vital to the environmental situation of the world in all perspectives. His words: “What the three popes have done is to articulate a Catholic vision of the environment (ecology), which is pro-life, pro-family, pro-poor, pro-peace and fundamentally relational by drawing analogies between the degradation of the environment and the degradation of human relationships, exploited people and the exploitation of the environment.”
The bishop stated: “In his landmark encyclical Centesimus Annus, written to commemorate the 100th anniversary of another equally landmark encyclical Rerum Novarum, he coined that new phrase (human ecology), which is part of the topic for this session. The speaker continued: “It is around the centrality of man to God’s entire creation that the Holy Father proposed the teaching of Centesimus annus analyzing what more qualitative existence for humanity ought to be and the role which man must play in the entire creation and in the appropriate concept which each phase of history allocates to him.”
He added: “Whether in the use which man makes of the resources around him or of the environment in which he lives, the Church must not shy away from having a say for the purpose of teaching and admonishing man.” Quoting relevant portions of the Encyclical, Bishop Badejo continued: “It is in this context that the ecological question comes into the discussion, a situation whereby in order to “enjoy rather than to be and grow” man consumes the resources of the earth in a disordered way, destroying the natural environment and himself in the process.”
Bishop Badejo stated that the Pope then identified the family as the basic tool for that task, adding: “The first and fundamental structure for “human ecology” is the family, in which man receives his first formative ideas about truth and goodness and learns what it means to love and to be loved, and thus what it actually means to be a person. Here we mean the family founded on marriage, in which the mutual gift of self by husband and wife creates an environment in which children can be born and develop their potentialities, become aware of their dignity and prepare to face their unique and individual destiny” (no 39).
The Bishop also used, the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si and emeritus Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate to buttress the position of the Church on human ecology, human responsibility to care for and protect the environment as God’s gift entrusted to human stewardship; the social role of the family, the unity of Catholic sexual and social teaching, and awareness of human moral responsibility for the environment.
He elucidated on the adoption of the family as an overall pastoral concept of the Church in Africa, adopted by the Bishops of the continent at the First Synod of African Bishops held in Rome in 1994; as well as pro-life and pro-family initiatives. Bishop Badejo finally articulated measures that could be adopted by the Church to strengthen her role in protecting the family and human life in all ramifications.
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