|March for Life, 2010. Photo: Flicker/ryanoshea|
Pope Benedict XVI has made clear the connection between abortion and environmental protection, as above in his 2013 Message for World Peace Day, and elsewhere. “Our duties toward the environment are linked to our duties toward the human person,” he famously wrote in 2009 in his third letter to the Church.
The pontiff’s point is simple: Protecting creation begins in the womb. When a culture chooses to abuse or end one form of life—especially vulnerable human life—it can more easily abuse or dismiss the value of all forms of life, and vice versa. And since ecology studies the interconnectivity of life and its physical environment—how impacting one element impacts others—the topic thus becomes a tool to teach the consequences of choices. Indeed, ecology encourages conversations about how our earthly decisions, particularly those related to our bodies, reverberate into greater realities.
In a culture that increasingly sees an individual’s choices as affecting only the individual that makes the choice, the popular topic of environmental protection demonstrates that one’s choices impact one’s neighbors—that we do not reign supreme over our bodies, our relationships, or our corners of creation.
As ecologists exhort the world to consume less and live in proper relation to nature, Catholic ecologists must, in addition, exhort the world to quench different human desires that lead to the consumption of each other—of a moral and sexual license that has devalued to nil the life of the unborn and the place of the family.
For all of us who seek to foster a culture of life, we will benefit from an awareness of the interconnectivity of issues as seemingly diverse as abortion and environmental protection.
As the Holy Father notes, there can be no respect for the natural world if we do not first respect innocent human life.
Likewise, as the problems of our day are thus united, so are the solutions. In the Letter to Titus, we read these words that guide humanity—that demonstrate that the means to better tend the environment are the same as those that help us respect the human person.
The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14).May the Spirit that inspired the writing of these words help us live temperately, justly, and devoutly, and so encourage a world in which all those conceived are born into healthy, nurturing, families and thriving systems of life.