Pope Benedict calls for sustainable business, development models

Pope Benedict XVI added to his growing reputation as the “green Pope” yesterday  (July 7) with the release of a new encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth). A call for sustainable development in the broadest sense, the Pope’s letter addressed the human and environmental costs of “business as usual,” and established “doing well by doing good” as the business philosophy most consistent with Church doctrine and Biblical teaching.

Chapter Four of Caritas in Veritate addresses environmental issues directly; among the arguments the Pope makes for “creation care”:

  • “The environment is God’s gift to everyone…”: Benedict argues for a sustainable approach to the use of natural resources, claiming that human use of nature carries “a responsibility towards the poor, towards future generations and towards humanity as a whole.”
  • “Nature expresses a design of love and truth”: In this section, the Pope carefully lays out a scriptural argument for creation care… but also make clear that he’s in no way presenting a case for “neo-paganism or a new pantheism…”
  • “The Church has a responsibility towards creation…”: Here Benedict argues for the concept of “human ecology” — that environmental challenges directly affect not only human prosperity, but the prospects for human survival.

There’s no doubt that the new encyclical will receive criticism from the Church’s left and right wings: while the overall message has a definite progressive bent, Benedict stays firm on Church doctrine concerning sexuality and respect for life (i.e., birth control and sex education aren’t the answers to overpopulation). It’s a fascinating read, though, and should spark a lot of debate over the relationship between faith, economics, and sustainability.

Read the encyclical? What did you think? Let us know in the comments…

Image credit: Tadeusz Górny at Wikimedia Commons