An ecological conversion of society from below, without hiding behind the lack of governmental support but rather incentivizing a change of course. That was the shared need expressed in the Study Day “Family, Care for Creation” organized last Saturday in the Vatican by the Pontifical Council for the Family and the not-for-profit Greenaccord.
“It is not only creation that suffers and groans, it is the human family itself that suffers, from hunger, decertification, climate changes, air, water and ground pollution, and it fears for its future.” These were the words of Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council Family, at the opening of the Study Day. Pope Francis, in a message to the conference confirming himself certain that “the family, special protector of the gift of life, is also the most important educator with respect to the great gift of creation” asked for an increase in “awareness of our shared responsibility for the entire human family and for the world, our common dwelling place that has been entrusted to our care.”
Alfonso Cauteruccio, President of Greenaccord, spoke of the need to “free ourselves from all the calcifications that keep us from being in harmony with nature,” and His Beatitude Ambrose, Orthodox Metropolitan Hierarch of Helsinki, emphasized the need to strengthen environmental ethics by joining Christian ethics to it: “Strong environmental ethics are not enough, we also need a framework of environmental spirituality as part of out action plan.” According to Luigino Bruni, an economist at Lumsa University in Rome, “We are accustomed to consume all we have much too quickly, without taking the time to make full use of what we acquire and do use.” That conclusion was shared by Jeffrey Sachs, Director fo the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He emphasized the need to work toward a new energy structure that is produces less carbon dioxide and to spread agricultural practices able to protect land ecosystems and educate the world’s youth about the environment. Leonard Becchetti, who teaches Political Economy at the University of Rome’s Tor Vergata Campus, proposed that “individuals should become more active in creating a human-sized economy where they can choose what to consume and to whom to entrust their the management of their resultant savings.”
For Gary Gardner, Research Director at Worldwatch Institute, the family,“domestic church and place of formation of the individual,” can make a contribution toward overcoming the growing ecological crisis in that it is the “ideal place for creating a new environmental culture among the younger generations.” The importance of moderation and sacrifice “for a richer life and one more in harmony with creation was spoken of by Father Guido Innocenzo Gargano, a Camaldolese monk from the monastery of San Gregorio al Celio. He said that “Protection of creation and the consequent protective role of the family in that activity should by right be part of the synodal discussion.” The General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, closed the Study Day by saying that the meeting had made it possible to look at the family from a “special point of view,” giving it a special role in the rethinking of development, in avoiding human ecological disasters and in creating a vision of progress for future generations.