Scholastic Krzysztof Augustyniak, SJ
For the first time in the history of Polish Christianity, all representatives of the Polish Ecumenical Council, together with the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland, signed a document on the protection of creation.
The text, in the form of a letter, contains both some general theological affirmations and more practical recommendations. Signatories to the document invite their readers, considered as collaborators of God in the work of creation, to redefine their attitude towards the natural environment and more generally the question of ‘the living.’
In the letter, they underline a fundamental link between the paschal mystery of Christ and this necessary change of lifestyle. The Church leaders point some areas of necessary vigilance both at the political and individual levels. They invite the government and local authorities to take a renewed initiative in four domains: waste management, forestry and biodiversity protection, transformation and conservation of food, and international maritime politics.
All Christians are invited to think over their ways of consumption and their relation to goods. Authors of the document emphasize the importance of positive attitudes in relation to the economy of energy and transformation of waste. The letter finishes with an appeal to position our lives today in a larger perspective: “Living today, think about tomorrow,” invite the Polish church leaders. Inasmuch as the size and the status of the document may leave much to be desired, it’s necessary to note its publication as a sign of progressing openness of Polish Christian communities to the issues related to ecology and sustainable development.
The translation of the letter
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We address you an ecumenical letter, which is an appeal and a demand to protect the creation as a work of God. “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth” (Gen 1.1) – the Holy Scripture begins with this solemn statement. World did not begin with a blind coincidence but with the will of a loving and wise God, the same as when man was created in His image (Gen 1. 27). As the Bible continues, “God took man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2, 15) The Creator invites man to collaborate with him in taking care of His work in the service of all living beings. All Christian traditions give examples of great men who approached God’s creation with love. Unfortunately we haven’t always been faithful to this invitation.
We produce mountains of waste, toxic food, we destroy our forests and we surround ourselves with a plastic world. Blinded by the lust for profit, we change streams into toxic sewage, luxuriant forests and prairies into barren and empty areas, wonders of nature into heaps of concrete. We live as if we were the last generation living on earth.
The protection of creation is not only a problem of ecological equilibrium, but also an ethical and spiritual problem of man who forgets that the whole world, including himself, is a work of God.
A lot of Christians around the world are engaged in various programs that preserve God’s creation, such as construction management to diminish energy consumption, diminishing waste production, recycling, composting, and other actions.
Brothers and sisters, we need to propagate this sensibility! We hope that our appeal will help Christians to influence their environment to diminish destructive actions in our forests, roads, and prairies.
We address our appeal also to the government and local authorities. We express our concern about privatization and commercialization of water resources. We invite to develop social politics promoting safe transformation of toxic waste. We invite others especially to:
- reduce urban waste, promote regeneration of dumping grounds, purification of air, water and soil;
- protect forests and endangered species and other wonders of nature, to reconstruct the ecosystems;
- use green technologies in the transformation and conservation of food and in the production of packaging materials;
- elaborate international agreements concerning the just exploitation of maritime resources to preserve ecological balance.
Through the resurrection of Christ and the Pentecost, God revealed that He wins over all corruption and death. The Christian is invited to show his faith in God, Creator and Lord of the world, through his acts. That is why we promote the protection of life from its beginning and respect of its dignity. We appeal to support social policies that promote life, wherever population growth is drastically diminishing.
Our world needs this witness not only through some who are engaged directly in the protection of environment, but through all disciples of Christ. The dynamic development of the ecological perspective in biblical and theological formation may be an aid for Christians to understand these processes.
Our common actions should express the true need of moderation and prudence in all that concerns our environment. The real asceticism will appear in avoiding excessive consumption and accumulation of articles and responsible exploitation of natural resources. Fasting, today still more and more forgotten, is one of example of this attitude, which through self-limitation of one’s lusts may become an instrument of spiritual conversion and openness to the poor. God’s invitation to rule over things is an aid not to let them rule over our lives.
Brothers and Sisters, living today – think about tomorrow. Let us think that we, as well as all creation, are called to live in the reality described in the last book of the Bible as the “new heaven and new earth.” (Rev, 21.1) Each day let us make responsible decisions in saving energy and resources of the earth and respecting all living beings. Even small, but constant actions will result in the protection of all creation that, as we read in the first book of the Bible, “God made good.” (Conf, Gen 1.31)
In the name of the Polish Ecumenical Council and the Bishops’ Conference of Poland:
Father Gustaw Cieślar – Baptist Church
Bishop Jerzy Samiec – Lutheran Church
Bishop Edward Puślecki – Methodist Church
Bishop Marek Izdebski – Reformed Church
Bishop Wiktor Wysoczański – Polish Catholic Church
Bishop Ludwik Jabłoński – Mariavite Church
Metropolite Sawa – Orthodox Metropolite of Warsaw and whole Poland
Józef Michalik – Roman Catholic (Latin) Archbishop of Przemysl – President of the Bishops’ Conference of Poland
Krzysztof Augustyniak, 30, is a Jesuit from the northern Polish Province. He is pursuing his master’s studies in theology in Centre Sevres in Paris, France, specializing on the spiritual perspective of the link between human being and the soil. He is pastorally engaged in the rural region of Beauce, France.