Why should we care for the Environment?

Producer and host Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann joins Sr. Damien Marie Savino, FSE, as they try to find the answer within God’s revelation as found in his creation and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Creation shows that dealing with environmental issues by focusing on political, economic, or ideological solutions alone is noble, but lacking. Instead, what the Catholic Church has said over the centuries about the sacredness of all creation can lead us to real answers to today’s environmental challenges – answers grounded in the truth of creation as good, full of dignity, and deserving of our care.

Creation takes us all over North America to meet people with stories that highlight Catholic environmental principles. Our stories draw attention to many issues – waste management, urban and local farming, water shortages, contamination and waste water treatment– and offer the answers that many of you are seeking with regards to our concerns about the environment.

In this episode of Creation, we learn that the call to care for creation begins with rediscovering the sense of awe and wonder at the created world.

Our host, Deacon Pedro, travels to University of St. Thomas in Houston where he speaks with a physicist, a biologist, an environmental engineer and other experts who each through their work have discovered the intrinsic beauty and goodness of creation.
Laudato Si'
Discussion Questions
Topics for Further Discussion
The Experts
§11. . . Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he [St. Francis] would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.” His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”.[20] Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behavior. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

§97. The Lord was able to invite others to be attentive to the beauty that there is in the world because he himself was in constant touch with nature, lending it an attention full of fondness and wonder. As he made his way throughout the land, he often stopped to contemplate the beauty sown by his Father, and invited his disciples to perceive a divine message in things: “Lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest” (Jn 4:35). “The kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but once it has grown, it is the greatest of plants” (Mt 13:31-32).
  1. Why should we take care of the earth? What are your motivations?
  2. Why don’t all people agree on whether or not we should take care of the planet? What factors affect their decision?
  3. How is your relationship with creation? Where do you go to encounter creation? What part of nature awakens a sense of “Awe and wonder” in your heart? Did any aspects of creation or science in the film inspire awe in you? If so, which ones?
  4. What does the Genesis account tell us about the intrinsic goodness of creation? Are the utilitarian and intrinsic goods of nature exclusive of each other? Why or why not?
  5. Why is awe and wonder important for environmental stewardship? For studying science? “To know something is to love something”: How do discoveries like the Big Bang and evolution affect how we think about creation? Can we still have a sense of awe and wonder?
  6. What does creation’s extravagance and variation tell us about the Creator?
  1. What is the purpose of creation? How can we help the created world realize its purpose?
  2. Why is there so much confusion today about the relationship between faith and science? Is there a limit to that which science can know? How can science and faith enlighten one another?
  3. How has the Catholic Church contributed to science? Who originally conceived of the Big Bang theory?
  4. How does evolution fit with the creation accounts we find in Genesis?
  5. Is creation random or does it imply a source?
  6. What can we learn from the diversity in nature?
  7. In what ways are we co-creators with the Lord in bringing about beauty on the earth?
the sense of wonder, reverence, and humility inspired by the sublime or felt in the presence of mystery.
a theological term, defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as "the continual complete causing of the very being of all that is."
changes in the heritable traits of a population of organisms as successive generations replace one another; populations evolve, but individual organisms do not.
Instrumental / Utilitarian Good
Good as a means to some other end; good because it promotes other goods or provides the means for acquiring another good.
Intrinsic Good
Good in itself.
Are human beings superior? If so, what does that mean?

We continue our journey in Toronto where Deacon Pedro meets with a zookeeper, an obstetrician, and a dance coach as we try to define our place as humans in the created world.
Laudato Si'
Discussion Questions
Topics for Further Discussion
The Experts
§81. Human beings, even if we postulate a process of evolution, also possess a uniqueness which cannot be fully explained by the evolution of other open systems. Each of us has his or her own personal identity and is capable of entering into dialogue with others and with God himself. Our capacity to reason, to develop arguments, to be inventive, to interpret reality and to create art, along with other not yet discovered capacities, are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology. The sheer novelty involved in the emergence of a personal being within a material universe presupposes a direct action of God and a particular call to life and to relationship on the part of a “Thou” who addresses himself to another “thou”. The biblical accounts of creation invite us to see each human being as a subject who can never be reduced to the status of an object.
  1. How would you describe the role of the human person in creation?
  2. What sets humans apart from other animals? How are orangutans similar to humans? Different from humans? What would you say are some traits and behaviors that make us uniquely human?
  3. How are our bodies unique? How important is the human body to the nature of the human person and to “being human”? What is unique about how we give birth? Dance? Form into political societies? Garden? Create beauty? Love?
  4. What do the Genesis accounts tell us about the nature of human persons and their particular place in the created world? Of all the creatures God made, only one creature – man – is said to be made “in the image of God.” What does that mean? What does it mean that we are created to be stewards of creation?
  5. Are humans superior? If so, in what ways? If not, why not? Has this episode changed your viewpoint?
  1. Are we treating nature with justice? What are ways we can bridge the gap between what is just treatment of creation and how we are treating it today?
  2. Is our treatment of nature in accordance with the common good? What about common good for our descendants? Is there a difference? Why? Should there be a difference?
  3. How have you cut God out of the garden of your life?
  4. Does your life have an impact on the planet on a global level? Do your actions make a real difference?
Discuss the following paragraphs from Laudato Si’ in light of the themes about the human person in this episode:

Laudato Si’ §117. . . Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”.[95]

Laudato Si’ §118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to “biocentrism”, for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

Laudato Si’ §115. Modern anthropocentrism has paradoxically ended up prizing technical thought over reality, since “the technological mind sees nature as an insensate order, as a cold body of facts, as a mere ‘given’, as an object of utility, as raw material to be hammered into useful shape; it views the cosmos similarly as a mere ‘space’ into which objects can be thrown with complete indifference”.[92] The intrinsic dignity of the world is thus compromised. When human beings fail to find their true place in this world, they misunderstand themselves and end up acting against themselves: “Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given, but, man too is God’s gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed”.[93]
Common Good
the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and easily (Catechism of the Catholic Church §1906).
Image and Likeness
the essential nature of human beings as created beings, as in the Genesis creation narrative; according to Benedict XVI, the capacity for relationship and the human capacity for God, to be like God.
Intellect and Will
according to St. Thomas Aquinas, two great powers of the mind, with the intellect being the capacity for understanding and thought (cognition), and the will being the natural inclination to pursue goodness.
A virtue establishing rational order and what is lawful, fair, and equitable; necessary for ordering society.
according to St. Bonaventure, one who is “in the middle” between two extremes, sharing the properties of each and reconciling or healing the differences between each. Christ is the prime mediator between God and creation.
In sexually reproducing organisms, individuals that can interbreed with each other.
If our call to care for the environment begins with a sense of wonder and humans have a special place in the created world, what does it mean to "respect" creation?

We travel to Michigan, where the Greening of Detroit is restoring land and rebuilding communities. We also meet the Benedict family who respect creation in an extraordinary way.
Laudato Si'
Discussion Questions
Topics for Further Discussion
The Experts
§69. Together with our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes: “by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory”,[41] and indeed, “the Lord rejoices in all his works” (Ps 104:31). By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws, for “the Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Prov 3:19). In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures are completely subordinated to the good of human beings, as if they have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish. The German bishops have taught that, where other creatures are concerned, “we can speak of the priority of being over that of being useful”.[42] The Catechism clearly and forcefully criticizes a distorted anthropocentrism: “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection… Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”.[43]
  1. What does the word “respect” mean? What is the difference between dignity and respect?
  2. Is the capacity for respect unique to humans?
  3. Why should we respect creation? How is respect at the center of the environmental crisis?
  4. What is the Greening of Detroit doing to respect creation? What are the benefits of urban gardens for natural and human ecology? How can healing the environment heal people?
  5. What is the Benedict family doing to respect creation? What has Sam taught the Benedict family? What are his gifts?
  6. What is meant by “natural ecology”? What is meant by “human ecology”? Can we respect the natural ecology if we don’t have respect for human ecology (and vice versa)? In short, can we respect the environment if we don’t respect human beings? And vice versa?
  7. How does cultivation of nature bring about respect for creation and for our fellow human beings?
  1. How does the human ecology of the soul affect the ecology of the soil or that of nature?
  2. Do you respect yourself?
  3. Do you want to leave behind a place better than how you found it?
  4. What does cultivation do for the dignity of man? How does gardening give a purpose and identity? How does growing our own food develop our communities? How does cultivation heal human relationships?
  5. How can we “create life in our footsteps?”
Discuss the following paragraphs from Laudato Si’ in light of the themes about respect in this episode:

Laudato Si

§89. The created things of this world are not free of ownership: “For they are yours, O Lord, who love the living” (Wis 11:26). This is the basis of our conviction that, as part of the universe, called into being by one Father, all of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect. Here I would reiterate that “God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement”.[67]

§155. Human ecology also implies another profound reality: the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of an “ecology of man”, based on the fact that “man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will”.[120] It is enough to recognize that our body itself establishes us in a direct relationship with the environment and with other living beings. The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it”.[121]

§213. Ecological education can take place in a variety of settings: at school, in families, in the media, in catechesis and elsewhere. Good education plants seeds when we are young, and these continue to bear fruit throughout life. Here, though, I would stress the great importance of the family, which is “the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. In the face of the so-called culture of death, the family is the heart of the culture of life”.[149] In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. In the family we receive an integral education, which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings.
Food Desert
urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food (USDA).
Food sovereignty
the right of people to determine their own food and agriculture policies; the democratization of food and agriculture (US Food Sovereignty Alliance).
Human Ecology
the study of the relationships between humans and their natural, social, and built environments; includes social, economic, cultural ecology, the "ecology of daily life," and the relationship between human life and the moral law (LS §139-155).
Natural Ecology
the study of the relationships between living organisms and the environment in which they live (LS §138).
in Latin,‘re-spectare’ - to re-inspect, to look again.
Urban Agriculture
Farming in cities, generally intensive on relatively small lots.
Respect means recognizing the inherent dignity that all creation has. In this episode we find out what could happen when we don't respect creation.

Deacon Pedro travels to Denver to investigate the effects of pharmaceuticals in the water, and he witnesses waste management in San Francisco as he reflects on the consequences of living in a consumeristic and “throw-away” culture.
Laudato Si'
Discussion Questions
Topics for Further Discussion
The Experts
§2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

§66. The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbor and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations. This in turn distorted our mandate to “have dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), to “till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). As a result, the originally harmonious relationship between human beings and nature became conflictual (cf. Gen 3:17-19). It is significant that the harmony which Saint Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture. Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence. This is a far cry from our situation today, where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.
  1. What does Romans 8 mean theologically?
  2. How are the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor linked?
  3. What do you think is the cause of climate change?
Discuss the following paragraphs from Laudato Si’ in light of the themes about creation groaning in this episode:

Laudato Si

§6. My predecessor Benedict XVI likewise proposed “eliminating the structural causes of the dysfunctions of the world economy and correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment”.[10] He observed that the world cannot be analyzed by isolating only one of its aspects, since “the book of nature is one and indivisible”, and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family, social relations, and so forth. It follows that “the deterioration of nature is closely connected to the culture which shapes human coexistence”.[11] Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour. The social environment has also suffered damage. Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless. We have forgotten that “man is not only a freedom which he creates for himself. Man does not create himself. He is spirit and will, but also nature”.[12] With paternal concern, Benedict urged us to realize that creation is harmed “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone. The misuse of creation begins when we no longer recognize any higher instance than ourselves, when we see nothing else but ourselves”.[13]

§106. The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation. Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit. It is the false notion that “an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed”.[86]

§117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”.[95]
  1. What does Romans 8 mean theologically?
  2. How are the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor linked?
  3. What do you think is the cause of climate change?
Direct reuse
treated wastewater piped into a water system without first being diluted in a natural stream or lake or in groundwater. The reused water is often called “reclaimed water.”
Estrogenic chemicals
(endocrine disrupting chemicals)

chemicals that mimic hormones in the body and interfere with hormonal systems; most notably, estrogenic chemicals like residues of contraceptives and plastics which have feminizing effects.
principles defining the distinction between right and wrong and between good and bad behavior; object, intention, and circumstances are elements of the morality of an act (Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1757).
Throwaway culture
a society in which unwanted items and unwanted people, such as the unborn, the elderly, and the poor, are discarded as waste. Pollution, waste, the lack of recycling, and the destruction of the earth are symptoms of the throwaway culture (LS §16, 22, 43, 123).
Universal Destination of Goods
principle of Catholic social teaching which says that the goods of creation are destined for all people, but which also recognizes the legitimate individual right to private property (LS §93-95).
Caring for creation requires respect. In this episode we learn that respect can be as simple as listening to the "language" inscribed in the created world.

In the Texas panhandle, farmers practice finely-tuned techniques for water conservation, and in Ontario a mother and her two sons go back to basics on their family farm.
Laudato Si'
Discussion Questions
Topics for Further Discussion
The Experts
§85. God has written a precious book, “whose letters are the multitude of created things present in the universe”.[54] The Canadian bishops rightly pointed out that no creature is excluded from this manifestation of God: “From panoramic vistas to the tiniest living form, nature is a constant source of wonder and awe. It is also a continuing revelation of the divine”.[55] The bishops of Japan, for their part, made a thought-provoking observation: “To sense each creature singing the hymn of its existence is to live joyfully in God’s love and hope”.[56] This contemplation of creation allows us to discover in each thing a teaching which God wishes to hand on to us, since “for the believer, to contemplate creation is to hear a message, to listen to a paradoxical and silent voice”.[57] We can say that “alongside revelation properly so-called, contained in sacred Scripture, there is a divine manifestation in the blaze of the sun and the fall of night”.[58] Paying attention to this manifestation, we learn to see ourselves in relation to all other creatures: “I express myself in expressing the world; in my effort to decipher the sacredness of the world, I explore my own”.[59]
  1. What do we mean by the “grammar of creation”? How do the farmers in this episode read the “grammar of creation”?
  2. How is creation speaking to us? What is it saying? Does it have anything to do with cycles? With the Trinity? Have you ever heard creation speaking to you? What can you do to bring others to this grammar and encounter?
  3. How are respect and learning the grammar of creation connected?
  4. “Real respect takes more listening than talking (Eliz. Stocking). Comment on this statement.
  5. How can listening to creation help us deal with environmental problems? Does technology help us listen to the grammar of creation, or does it block us?
  6. What did Augustine and Bonaventure mean when they called creation the Carmen Dei?
  7. How is the language of creation Trinitarian?
  1. Do you know where your food comes from and what it went through to get to you?
  2. Can you go a week eating only foods from within a 100 mile area?
  3. How do we know if we are speaking or listening properly to the grammar of creation?
  4. Are farmers dominators of the earth in a negative sense? Why or why not?
  5. How does the grammar of creation speak of cycles?
  6. How is music part of the language of creation? How does music use the laws of creation?
a geologic formation of permeable rock or sediments that contains and conducts underground water.
Carmen Dei
(Song of God)

the idea that God creates the world with the beauty and harmony of a song; found in St. Augustine, St. Bonaventure and others. Grammar of Creation: the language God has inscribed in the book of nature which, according to Pope Benedict XVI, "sets forth ends and criteria for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation."(Caritas in Veritate §48)
Organic Farming
farming which uses methods that preserve the environment, feed the soil, are in harmony with natural rhythms, and which avoid synthetic materials such as pesticides and antibiotics.
Spiritual senses
analogous to the five corporeal senses; in St. Bonaventure, related to how we come to perception and knowledge of God or of Christ, through spiritual sight, hearing, etc.
How do we integrate natural and human ecology? In this final episode, our host, Deacon Pedro, discovers surprising and creative answers to this question.

In northern California, residents enjoy jogging and birdwatching at the local wastewater treatment facility, and in Florida marine mammals lift the spirits of those in need of hope.
Laudato Si'
Discussion Questions
Topics for Further Discussion
The Experts
§139. When we speak of the “environment”, what we really mean is a relationship existing between nature and the society which lives in it. Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it. Recognizing the reasons why a given area is polluted requires a study of the workings of society, its economy, its behavior patterns, and the ways it grasps reality. Given the scale of change, it is no longer possible to find a specific, discrete answer for each part of the problem. It is essential to seek comprehensive solutions which consider the interactions within natural systems themselves and with social systems. We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.

§225. On the other hand, no one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace with him or herself. An adequate understanding of spirituality consists in filling out what we mean by peace, which is much more than the absence of war. Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances? Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turn leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them. This too affects how they treat the environment. An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence “must not be contrived but found, uncovered”.[155]
  1. What is integral ecology?
  2. How do the stories in this episode about the Arcata wetlands and the Clearwater Aquarium exemplify integral ecology?
  3. What does it mean to mediate creation? What is the difference between being a dominator and a mediator?
  4. After watching this series, how would you answer the question: Why should we care about the environment?
  5. How can you be a co-creator in bringing beauty in the planet?
  1. What does the future look like if we are good stewards?
  2. Why is caring for creation a moral duty?
  3. Do you think there will be nature in heaven?
  4. How does St. Francis of Assisi exemplify integral ecology? (cf. Laudato Si 10 – 12): I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned for God’s creation and for the poor and outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his open heartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace
Constructed wetlands
various forms of wetlands and ponds constructed to biologically treat and purify wastewater.
Ecological Virtues
application of virtue ethics to environmental problems.
Integral Ecology
the integration of human and natural ecology; it includes social, economic, cultural ecology, the “ecology of daily life,” and the relationship between human life and the moral law (Laudato Si’ §139-155).
the human shepherding of creation into its full fertility and its offering as a gift to God.
‘Canticle of Creation’
by: St. Francis of Assisi

Most high, all powerful, good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

All praise be Yours, my Lord, through all You have made
And first, my Lord, Brother Sun

who brings the day; and through whom You give us light.
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!

Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.
All praise be Yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;

in the heavens You have made them bright, and precious and fair.
All praise be Yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,

and fair and stormy all the weather's moods
by which You cherish all that Your have made.

All praise be Yours, my Lord, through Sister Water;
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

All praise be Yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You brighten up the night.

How beautiful is he, how cheerful, full of power and strength.
All praise be Yours, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,

who sustains us and governs us
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

All praise be Yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon for love of You;
through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy are those who endure in peace,
by You, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be Yours, my Lord, through our sister Death,
from whose embrace no mortal can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing Your will.

A second death can do no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give Him thanks,
and serve Him with great humility.

About Sr. Damien Savino, F.S.E.

Sr. Damien Marie Savino, FSE is the chair of the Environmental Science and Studies Department at the University of St. Thomas - Houston and also has a joint appointment in Catholic Studies. She has a PhD in Civil Engineering and a Master of Arts in Theology from the Catholic University of America. She also has a Master of Science in Plant Science from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Science in Biogeography from McGill Universtiy. Before arriving at the University of St. Thomas she worked for 12 years as an environmental consultant in the field and laboratory, working in soil and groundwater remediation of contaminated sites. Her areas of research include ecological restoration, wetlands, urban environmental issues, ecology and theology, science and theology. She is an expert on environmental science, earth science, ecology, Catholic studies and the theology of creation.

About Deacon Pedro

Deacon Pedro Guevara Mann, Producer

Deacon Pedro was the artistic director for WYD 2002, has a background in the performing arts: theatre, music and dance and holds a B.F.A. from York University.

As well as producing, directing and co-writing Creation (2015), Deacon Pedro was the supervising producer for In Her Footsteps: The Story of Kateri Tekakwitha (2012) and the writer/producer/director for Living Stones: Walking Humbly in this Land We Call Holy (2014), With Our Own Hands (2013) the Make the Call series (2013), Abraham's Tent (2012), Ends of the Earth (2009), A Day in a Life: The Carmel of St. Joseph (2009), A People of Life (2008), Turning the Tide: Dignity, Compassion and Euthanasia (2007); Lives in the Balance (2006); INRI (2006) and Thank You, John Paul II (2005).

He is also the creator, producer, writer and director of the popular youth series In Your Faith (2004, 2010). He has produced and hosted many Catholic Focus episodes and the concert series Openings. He is also the producer and host of Perspectives: The Weekly Edition and every three years produces and hosts our World Youth Day coverage program WYDCentral.

Deacon Pedro is also the producer and host of The Salt + Light Radio Hour (SLHour) which can be heard weekly on many radio stations across the U.S., on the Catholic Channel on Sirius XM and worldwide on the Internet.

Learn more
websites of interest
From the Church

Related reading

Christiansen, D. and Grazer, W., eds. (1996). And God Saw That It Was Good: Catholic Theology and the Environment. Washington DC: United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

Dent, Sister Ancilla, ed. (1997). Ecology and Faith: The Writings of Pope John Paul II.
Ipswich, Suffolk, Great Britian: Ipswich Book Company.

Keenan, Sister Marjorie. (2002). From Stockholm to Johannesburg: An Historical Overview of the Concern of the Holy See for the Environment, 1972-2002. Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. (Order from USCCB)

United States Catholic Conference. (1996). Let the Earth Bless the Lord: God’s Creation and Our Responsibility, A Catholic Approach to the Environment. Washington DC: United States Catholic Conference, Inc. (Order from USCCB)